NEW HOPE — As Tuesday night’s game between the Noxubee County and New Hope girls basketball teams wore on, the Tigers went as Tootie Lockett went.
The Tigers kept increasing their scoring output, with 10 points during the first quarter followed by 14, 15 and 16 over the next three. Lockett did the same, scoring 3 points in the first, then 7, 9 and finally 10 in the fourth.
Add it up and the flashy sophomore scored 29 of the Tigers’ points in a 55-38 win over the Trojans.
“This is my first big game, really,” Lockett said. “I started off pretty slowly. I had rolled my ankle so that maybe had me a little scared to drive, but I had to suck it up because I know if my team sees me doing good, then they’re going to be doing good.”
That certainly was the case against the Trojans, who led 27-24 at halftime. Senior Taylor Brownlee was the spark behind New Hope’s first-half edge, nailing three 3-pointers and scoring 10 points by halftime.
But after scoring 18 points during the second quarter, the Trojans managed just 11 during the entire second half, with the Tigers taking the lead 1:07 into the third quarter and never relinquishing it.
Lockett’s free throw shooting also improved during the course of the game. While she missed 2 of 3 attempts in each of the first two quarters and 3 of 4 during the third, she got hot down the stretch, going 6 for 6 from the line to help squash what little hopes for a comeback the Trojans had.
Karizma Phillips scored 5 points during the first quarter for the Tigers, while Jakeia Walker did the same in the second. Beyond that, the Noxubee County offense was largely Lockett going this way to the basket, Lockett going that way to the basket, and Lockett getting to the foul line. The Trojans knew full well where the ball would be going, especially when the Tigers started to push the ball up the floor, but they could do little about it.
And Lockett continues to add to her repertoire.
“I started working on my midrange game,” she said. “A lot of teams want to take a charge on me, and I can just stop and pull up.”
Where her teammates helped was at the line. Noxubee County shot just 3 of 13 from the line during the first half, but the Tigers flipped that to 13 of 18 during the second half. Walker hit 5 of 6 for the game, and the Tigers nailed all 10 of their fourth-quarter free throws.
Walker finished with 9 points for the Tigers, with Phillips adding 7. For New Hope, Brownlee led the way with 12 points, while junior Jakiya Lewis and sophomore Amiya Hill each tallied 6.
While the Tigers played well in turning a 3-point halftime deficit into a 17-point victory, Lockett expects her team to be this good most of the time.
“We’re going to be great,” she said. “We are great. We’ve got all the players, we’ve just got to keep working.”