Elzy girls hoops

Kennedy Johnson poured in 13 points for the Lady Panthers in their 54-48 victory over Holly Springs on Tuesday. 

Amanda Elzy head girls coach Michael Curry admits the youth and inexperience of his team sometimes drives him crazy. But he’s awfully thankful for their enthusiasm.

The Region 3 champion Lady Panthers survived a first-round scare in the MHSAA Class 3A State Tournament with a 54-48 win over visiting Holly Springs Tuesday night.

Elzy (11-2) will play Amory High School Thursday at 5 p.m. in a second-round game at Elzy. The game had been originally set for Wednesday but was rescheduled following the Lady Panthers' victory.

Amory beat Houston 48-29 Monday night in a first-round tilt.

“This is just unbelievable. I’m so proud of my kids for pulling this one out,” said a jubilant Curry following the game. “The way this season has gone with the starting and then stopping, and then doing it all over again by starting and stopping. It’s been frustrating, but at the same time, it’s been exciting because these girls have worked so hard.

“It’s been a growing process with them. We have three senior starters who we rely on for leadership, but it’s also been the play of our younger kids that has given us a spark. Zamiya (Brown), Kennedy (Johnson) and Zakyra (Jasper) have played so well. Jasper went out there and gave it everything she had. It’s the youthful enthusiasm they have that makes this so exciting.”

The fourth period started with Elzy clinging to a 36-35 lead. Brown, Jasper and Johnson scored eight of Elzy’s next nine points as it went in front 45-38 by the 3:52 mark.

Holly Springs, which ends its season at 4-7, scored the next seven points and only trailed 45-44 at the 3:08 mark. Jasper canned a long three-pointer for Elzy and then had to exit the game briefly after hurting her left knee.

The Lady Panthers led 50-44 on a goal by Brown. A trey from Celekirsha Brown pulled the Lady Hawks to within three, but Elzy held a 4-1 scoring advantage in the final 1:27 to seal the victory.

The host team raced out to an 11-8 lead after the first frame as sophomore Brown had eight points. Elzy padded its lead to 23-13 with 3:10 showing on the clock in the second period, but the Lady Hawks battled back to only trail 25-23 by halftime. Point guard Dajah Turner got a steal and layup to pull Holly Springs to within two points.

Holly Springs held a slim 12-11 scoring advantage in the third quarter to get to within one at 36-35 headed to the final period.

Brown finished with 18 points and seven rebounds for Elzy, and Johnson tacked on 13 points and eight boards.

Jasper had 11 points and 17 rebounds, and Ashley Cooper tallied eight points. Antwanashia Mitchell came off the bench to score four points and grab four rebounds. Elzy outrebounded Holly Springs 49-22.

Turner led the Lady Hawks with 15 points. Celekirsha Brown tacked on 14, and Jessica Bohanna had nine.

• Contact Calvin Stevens at 581-7234 or cstevens@gwcommonwealth.com.

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