The Warriors knew they were facing a dangerous offensive opponent on Saturday night. When they found themselves trailing at the end of the first half, Coach Rolley Tipler had a simple halftime message.
“Keep griding away on defense. Let’s go out and win the third quarter,” Tipler told his team at the break.
Check and mate.
The Warrior defense held the potent Bulldogs of New Albany to just 4 third quarter points en route to a 64-53 victory.
Pontotoc closed the third quarter on a 9-0 thanks to alternating buckets by Joe Haze Austin and Rock Robinson to take a 42-33 lead into the final frame.
From there, the Warriors showed they can put up points as well, as they scored 22 in the final frame to 20 from the Bulldogs as they secured a return trip to the quarterfinals of the playoffs after making it in Tipler’s first season last year.
Robinson finished with 21 points to lead Pontotoc while Austin added 11. Isaiah Ball led all scorers with 32 points for New Albany. Mitch Shettles put up 14 for the Bulldogs.
Pontotoc sets up a much anticipated showdown of North Mississippi powers as they take on Ripley at MVSU on Friday. Tip off is set for 5:30.