BAY ST. LOUIS - If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
That was essentially Debbie Triplett's approach Friday night as her team built an early lead and eventually held off South Pike to clinch a 63-49 victory in the second round of the MHSAA Class 4A playoffs.
With a return trip to Jackson hanging in the balance, the Lady Tigers rode the same five starters for nearly 28 minutes and never trailed.
"I thought we had good chemistry out there. As long as they were playing well and doing what they needed to do, we didn't get too tired," Triplett said. "And then when Breanna (Fountain) hurt her leg a little, Aerion (Dority) came in and hit a big 3 to make me look like I knew what I was doing."
Dority's basket came at an important point midway through the fourth quarter as the Lady Eagles were beginning to mount a late rally. After Bay pushed its lead to 56-40, South Pike went on a miniature run to get its deficit - 56-47 - under 10 for the first time since the opening frame.
The Lady Tigers responded with a run of their own. Thanks to three Jamaya Galloway free throws and a Dasha Barnes basket, Bay extended its lead and was able to run out the clock.
"I was proud of my kids with how they responded. We turned around and went on a run. That's what it takes," Triplett said. "You're going to have runs. The best thing to do is make the biggest one at the most important time."
Bay (23-6) finished with four players in double figures. Galloway had a game-high 15 points with 10 assists, while Barnes and Simone Jackson scored 13 points and Amari Pittman chipped in 12. Tamia Mitchell led South Pike (26-5) with 12 points.
"That means we're scoring some points," Triplett said of her quartet of scorers. "If we score like that we're hard to beat. We can usually defend well enough to hold that."
Bay jumped out to a 9-3 lead to open the game, forcing an early South Pike timeout, and pushed its lead to 19-11 by the end of the first quarter.
"I thought we shot the ball well early and made some big shots," Triplett said. "Our first six or eight points came in transition and that's what I thought was going to be important playing them."
With the win, Bay High will travel to Jackson State on March 3 to play Corinth at 4 p.m.
Corinth edged Cleveland 63-62 to advance.