It was their time: Belmont Lady Cardinals win 3A basketball title

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Belmont’s Lady Cardinals celebrate with the 2020-21 Class 3A State Championship trophy after defeating Kossuth in overtime, 56-55, on March 6, 2021 in Jackson, Miss. Photo by Bob Smith/Mississippi High School Athletics Association

All year long, the Lady Cardinals have used the motto “This is our time.”  On Saturday, March 6, in the Mississippi Class 3A state basketball championship game in Jackson, it was their time.

In the 56-55 overtime win against Kossuth, Belmont walked away with its 12th state championship, the fourth under Coach Chris Higginbottom in his 16th season at the school. 

Belmont defeated Kemper County, 61-29, on March 3 to make to a championship game rematch against Kossuth. Against Kemper County, Macie Walker finished with 31 points, Mary-Grace Storment had 8 points, Abby Kuykendall and Kassi Grimes added 6 points each, Kalea Koger chipped in 4 points, Brooklyn Hodum and Rayleigh Guin dropped in 3 points each.

In the championship game on Saturday, Belmont won in overtime against Kossuth, 56-55. Walker led the Lady Cardinals with 29 points, Abby Kuykendall had 12 points, Mary-Grace Storment finished with 8 points, Rayleigh Guin added 3 points, Kassi Grimes and Brooklyn Hodum contributed 2 points each. 

“This team had a mentality, whatever we need to do to help our team win a state championship that is what we want to do,” Higginbottom said. “Every player on this team played a different role for our team and they all fulfilled their role and that is why we are the 2021 3A state champions! I cannot be any happier for a great group of girls.”

Macie Walker holds the State Championship trophy, left, and her trophy for being named named most valuable player of the championship game. Courtesy photo

Walker received the Class 3A Most Valuable Player award for the championship game and Abby Kuydendall received the Scholar Athlete Award.

“To our surrounding Communities, you all have been so supportive as we have made this run to win Belmont’s 12th state championship,” Higginbottom said. “A program must have a supportive community to be successful and we definitely have that at Belmont! We all pulled together and made this happen! On behalf of the Belmont Lady Cardinal basketball program, we appreciate all of the generosity of businesses and many different people providing meals, food, drinks, and everything else. The community made this a very special experience that we will never forget. ‘Thank You All.’”

Belmont Fast Facts

  • This was the 39th time Belmont girls have been to the state tournament
  • Belmont has won 12 state championships in program history
  • Belmont has played for the state championship 19 times, with a record of 12-7
  • Coach Higginbottom just finished his 16th season at Belmont. He has led the Belmont Lady Cardinal basketball program to the state tournament 11 times. He also has led the Lady Cardinals to the state championship game 6 out of the last 12 years, where Belmont has won it 4 times. The 2021 3A Girls Championship is Coach Higginbottom’s 4th state championship.
The Belmont High School 2021 3A Mississippi Girls State Championship team included, back row from left, Coach Chris Higginbottom, Cheyenne Hughes, Dakota Gassaway, Yuna Gilleland, Rayleigh Guin, Mary-Grace Storment, Kalea Koger, MacKenzie Young, Talise Eaton, Cassie Ashley, AnnaKaren Merino, Brooklyn Hodum and Coach Anna Brooke Wooten. Front row from left are Callie Beth Higginbottom, Casen Higginbottom, Madie Enlow, Abby Kuykendall, Macie Walker, Taylor Hutcheson, Kassi Grimes, Rian Russell, Sadie Holt, Addyson Liles, Saray Cortes and Alaina Hubbard. Photo via the Mississippi High School Athletics Association