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Column: A Star Was Born in Jackson

Kossuth’s Zoe Essary was averaging about eight points a game, but scored 47 points in two state tournament games at Jackson. (Photo by Bob Smith)

By Dalton Middleton

For Corinth Today

After driving 500-plus miles and watching 36 basketball games in the MHSAA state tournament, one thing continues to stand out above the rest in my mind – Kossuth’s Zoe Essary put on an absolute show last week in Jackson.

Middleton

The star freshman put together two spectacular performances against Forest and Belmont at the Mississippi Coliseum as the Lady Aggies brought home the first state championship in program history.

She entered the tournament as the team’s second-best scorer, averaging right above eight points per game.

But in the 64-59 win over Forest in the semifinals, she tallied up a season-high 27 points and 14 rebounds, and she shot 7 of 15 from the floor while making 11 of 12 free-throw attempts.

It was the first game of the season in which she scored more than 20 points, and the 14 rebounds was her third highest total of the season.

In the postgame interviews after the semifinal win, Essary said she just wanted to go out and prove herself to her teammates.

“Honestly, my team just gave me the ball and needed someone to score. I just took it upon myself to drive,” Essary said.

She followed that scoring outburst with her second 20-point game of the season in the 48-44 win over Belmont in the championship.

In that fourth-quarter comeback win, Essary scored a game-high 20 points and was named the C-Spire Player of the Game.

She scored 16 points during the fourth quarter alone and had the game-winning layup with 16 seconds left. Right after, she secured the game with two free throws.

With Kossuth down 37-27 with 5:32 left in the game, Essary scored 12-straight points for Kossuth over the course of four minutes to pull the game to five points before Faith Williamson and Morgan Hodum tied the game up with 22 seconds left.

In her two games at the Big House, Essary finished 13 of 27 from the floor and 19 of 22 from the free throw line for 45 points, 17 rebounds and 7 steals.

That was quite the week for the young freshman.

“She came through for us,” coach Angie Malone said after the Belmont win. “Most guards her size will get blocked inside, but she can elevate up and she’s so strong with her upper body. Oh man, she was big for us. She was big.”

This basketball season may be over, but look out for the rising sophomore in Alcorn County this November.

dalton.middleton@journalinc.com Twitter: @DLMiddleton8

dalton.middleton@journalinc.com

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