GULFPORT- Ameshya Williams collected a triple-double and West Harrison connected on 25 free throws as the Lady Hurricanes advanced to the Class 5A state tournament with a 65-46 home win over South Jones on Friday night.
The Lady Hurricanes (23-2) will face Ridgeland next Friday at 4 p.m. at Jackson State University. South Jones finished its season at 15-11.
"I feel like everybody stepped up, everybody played their role,'' Williams said. "It's very exciting to be heading back to the state tournament. I'm hoping we make it farther than just going up there. We want to go up there and win, and do better than last year. I want to win a Gold Ball.''
Williams poured in 30 points, pulled down 17 rebounds and had 10 blocked shots. She was an enforcer in the paint for West Harrison, which is making its second consecutive trip to the state tournament.
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Deseree Moore added 12 points while Vin'Sha Hatcher and Amari Graves had 9 points apiece. Jordan Clark paced South Jones with 13 points. Kelsi Jackson and Endia Holliday added 9 points apiece. Holliday was in foul trouble for most of the evening and fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
West Harrison hit 25 of 28 free throw attempts. Moore made 8 of 8 in the second half while Williams nailed 10 of 12.
"We shoot 200 free throws at practice every day,'' Williams said. "We practice twice a day so it is 400.''
West Harrison vaulted to a 20-6 first-quarter lead, forcing 13 turnovers from the Lady Braves in that first period.
"We feel like our strength is defense,'' West Harrison coach Otis Gates said. "When we defend well, that generates offense for us. We had some girls make some shots and we hit free throws down the stretch. Our problem in the state tournament (last year) was free throw shooting. Hopefully, we understand that we have to hit free throws and we did that tonight. There aren't too many post players that measure up to Ameysha Williams.''
South Jones hit two treys to open the second quarter and got as close as eight points but West Harrison led 29-17 at halftime. The Lady Braves cut the lead to 10 twice in the fourth quarter - the last coming at 56-46 with 1:53 left. But South Jones would never score a point again in the contest.