G) Belmont 43, East Union 30
By; Michael Miller, NEMCC
Belmont High School has long been known to have a stout defense.
However, the Belmont Middle School Lady Cardinal eighth grade team held East Union without a field goal for 9 minutes and 14 seconds in claiming the 5-County Eighth Grade Basketball Championship on the campus of Northeast Mississippi Community College on Monday, January 30.
Belmont’s stingy defense led to a 20-5 run by the Lady Cardinals and set the stage for a 43-30 win in the championship game.
After East Union’s Marley Clayton tied the game at 17-all with 1:13 left in the first half, the Lady Urchins would not find the cylinder again for over a quarter-and-a-half.
Belmont took full advantage of East Union’s struggles on offense as all five Lady Cardinal starters checked into the scorer’s column during the 20-5 run.
Karsyn Sullivan led the way with seven, while Brooke Smith and Aubree Scott checked in with four apiece. Maya Southward tallied three during the spurt, while Brooklyn Dill knocked down a free throw with 3:52 left in the third quarter.
Scott tied the game up just before the half with a putback, and the second half was all Belmont.
Sullivan got the scoring going and gave the Lady Cardinals the lead for good with a three-pointer from the right wing, and Chris Higginbottom’s crew kept the defensive pressure on.
Southward and Scott kept the Lady Urchins frustrated on offense and caused easy buckets for their teammates.
Southward’s steal with just over five minutes left in the third gave the Lady Cardinals a five-point lead on a Brooke Smith jumper.
However, Southward would continue to share the wealth after picking up three points. Southward dished the orange to Scott for a 10-point lead, and Smith put the game on ice when she went coast-to-coast for an old-fashioned three-point play with 1:44 left in the frame.
As Southward kept the pressure on the Lady Urchins in the third, Sullivan picked up the pace in the fourth with a pair of layups at the 5:35 and 4:32 mark of the frame.
Adison Russell finally found the range with East Union with 3:59 left in the game with a jumper from the left side of the court.
Belmont’s 5-County Eighth Grade Basketball Championship is the second title the Lady Cardinals have claimed in the last three days. The Lady Cardinals knocked off St. Martin in the 2023 Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Middle School Basketball Invitational on Saturday, January 28, at the Keyes T. Currie Coliseum in Scooba.
Prior to Monday night’s championship game, Belmont and East Union faced off against each other at Northeast earlier this year, with the Lady Cardinals taking a 30-29 win over the Lady Urchins on Saturday, January 21, in the north half championship of the 2023 MHSAA Middle School Basketball Invitational.
Belmont’s one-point win handed East Union its only loss of the year, and the Lady Cardinals had to get two stops with 4.5 seconds left in the contest to secure the victory.
(G) Belmont 43, East Union 30
EU 8 11 3 8 — 30
BEL 11 8 14 10 — 43
Halftime: Tied 19-all.
EAST UNION (30): Adison Russell 13, Lily Kate Johnson 11, Reagan Johnson 3, Marley Clayton 3.
BELMONT (43): Karsyn Sullivan 18, Maya Southward 13, Aubree Scott 6, Brooke Smith 5, Brooklyn Dill 1.