Thursday, March 17, 2005

Hawks bring home 3A gold
  • Holly High repeats; Dawkins leads way

Sports Editor

The Holly Springs High School Hawks managed to put the hype of a possible “Dream Game II” aside long enough to claim their second straight Class 3A state championship Saturday night in “The Big House.”

The Hawks got 23 points from super senior floor leader Kenny Dawkins and beat Franklin County 47-35 for the gold.

The news had come down earlier in the week that the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) had sanctioned a meeting between the state’s top two ranked teams in all classifications, the Jackson Lanier 4A Bulldogs and the Holly High 3A Hawks, if both teams won their respective state championships.

Apparently the powers which be at the state level rushed to make an approval known before anyone could discuss a change of venue. It was to be played on Tuesday of this week at the same site of the State Tournament, Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson (but was cancelled later at the local level; see other story on this page).

There was only small talk of the possible match-up when the Hawks took the floor before a near sellout crowd on Friday evening at the Coliseum for the state final. The almost 7,000 strong had many leftovers from the Choctaw Central-Southeast Lauderdale girls championship match which saw the Lady Warriors from Philadelphia win their fifth state crown and second consecutive.

Clevin Hannah made the early scoring statement for Holly High, planting a trey squarely in the nylon. His was followed by another from Kenny Dawkins.

In the meantime the Bulldogs of Franklin County had scored a stick-back. The Hawks’ defensive fortifications consisted of a tight 2-3 formation, which stifled Franklin’s advance.

There was a lull in the scoring when Dawkins floated through the Bulldogs’ Sequoias and got a favorable goal-tending call from the officials. That made it 19-8 at the first quarter’s end.

And that was probably the death knell for the Bulldogs. Although the Hawks played a conservative game after that, there was never a real threat.

The Bulldogs ran a trio of guards to begin the second frame. The intent was perhaps to counteract the fast break threat from Dawkins and Hannah.

The intent was honorable but the affect was nil. The Hawks went to a 12-point lead with 2:58 remaining in the second quarter. They closed out the half at 28-18.

The Buldoggs did pull to within five for a brief period in the third while the Hawks were still being conservative but methodical. Near the end of the quarter, Dawkins recovered his own rebound and gave the Hawks a 37-30 margin at the end of three.

The Hawks actually lulled the Bulldogs into a false sense of security in the fourth before Brandon Ayers took an over the basket pass and rammed it home. This gave the huge Holly High partisan crowd the lift it had been clamoring for. Just 28 seconds later Ayers did it again and gave the Hawks another 10-point lead.

The Bulldogs went to a full court press with a shade over two minutes left. They had one foul to give and sent Hannah to the line. He canned both.

Then DeUntral “Duke” Mosley caught the entire Franklin team off guard and slammed through the exclamation point.

Justin Nabors’ final slam signal ed the end and the Hawks, by 12 points, had won back-to-back Class 3A state championship.

Dawkins led the scoring for the floor with 23, claiming 15 of those by threes.Mosley had eight points, Hannah seven, Nabors five and Ayers 4.

The Bulldogs (24-8) were led by Marcus Tillman with 14. They played in their first 3A final since 1997.

The Hawks, under the leadership of head coach Naylond Hayes, finished the championship run with a record of 34-1.

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