March 1, 2014 9:20:33 PM
From Special Reports
PEARL --New Hope High School celebrated a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State basketball championship Saturday night.
New Hope rolled over Canton 71-40 to secure the top spot from the north at next week's Class 5A State Tournament. The Lady Trojans will return to the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson for the first time in close to three decades when they meet South Jones at 6:30 p.m., March 10. New Hope now stands two wins away from a state championship in girls basketball for the first time since 1984.
"I told the girls to celebrate and really enjoy winning a championship," New Hope coach Laura Lee Holman said. "God has really molded this team and made them a special team. He opened the door for this opportunity so I want the girls to really enjoy what they have accomplished.
"On Monday, we will come back in and go to work, because hopefully we have two more games to play."
New Hope (26-2) has found its second gear at the perfect time. Saturday's win came on the heels of an equally dominating performance in a 66-42 win over Pearl in the North State semifinal round Friday night.
"Our half-court pressure was really good both nights," Holman said. "I thought that would be a key against Canton. They rely on offensive rebounds. We held them to one of those in the first half. We really wore them down with the defensive pressure."
Moesha Calmes led New Hope with 21 points, while Taylor Baudoin added 14 points, D.J. Sanders added 12 points and Mercedes Mattix added 10 points.
"We shot the ball well," Holman said. "We won the rebounding battle and the turnover battle. The main thing is we set the game at our pace. We wanted them to have to play Lady Trojans basketball for four quarters. When we were able to accomplish that, they had a hard time keeping up.
"Defensively, we were great. We had great box outs and did a great job on the boards. That allowed us to do be able to do some things in transition."
Sanders had six rebounds, while Baudoin and Mattix each had five rebounds and Kaitlin Bradley had four rebounds. Mattix had four assists, followed by Calmes and Bradley with three each. Sanders and Calmes each had three steals, while Baudoin had two.
"We played with a lot of heart and desire and that is why we give God the glory," Holman said. "In the region tournament, we had some success on offense scoring against the zone and that really opened some things up for us. We have played well defensively all year, but the things that we are doing on offense now have really helped us become even more successful."
In the win over Pearl, Sanders had 28 points and 10 rebounds. Baudoin had 11 points, four rebounds, five assists and seven steals. Calmes had 10 points, while Bradley had seven points, five rebounds and two steals.