Thursday, March 2, 2005

State Tournament time
  • Cardinals get first berth since 1993

By BARRY BURLESON
Editor

The Potts Camp celebration at center court Saturday night had been a long time coming.

The Cardinals had just recorded a nerve-wracking, two-point win over DeSoto Central in the North Half Tournament consolation contest and earned their first trip to the State Basketball Tournament in 12 years.

Potts Camp, the number three team from the North in Class 1A, was scheduled to meet McAdams, the number two team from the South, at Mississippi Coliseum on Monday night of this week.

“I could not be more proud of a team,” said head coach Chris Ferrell, in his second season at Potts Camp after guiding Marshall Academy to two state championships in his four years at that school. “In my 12 years of coaching, this is one of the most emotional wins I’ve had. There are only six teams in the whole state in Class 1A that get to Jackson. This is special.”

Potts Camp, with a rich tradition in boys basketball, last played in the State Tournament in 1993, losing in the Class 2A championship game 57-55 to Philadelphia.

“I want us to be happy to go,” Ferrell said about the trip to State, “but I want us to plan on going every year. I want that type of atmosphere here again. I want it to be in the mindset. Hopefully, we’ve started a new trend.”

Ferrell’s team did it with a 16-21 overall record and a “never quit” attitude. A rugged regular season schedule included the likes of Holly Springs, Byhalia and Ripley.

“If there is one great characteristic of this team it is that these guys can battle back from adversity,” he said. “That’s one thing that makes me enjoy this group. This team won’t go away. Nobody thinks we’re that good, but nobody wants to plays us.”

The low-scoring contest against the DeSoto Central Jaguars Saturday night at Hickory Flat School was not for the weak at heart. The Cardinals survived a last-second shot by the Jags and won 41-39.

“Again, we just kept bouncing back,” Ferrell said. “We dug ourselves an 8-0 hole early, but once we fought out of that and cut it to 8-7, I could tell we were ready to go the rest of the way.

“They surprise us. That had played us man-to-man (in earlier games), but they came out in a 2-3 zone. That threw us off chemistry-wise.”

The Cardinals, who led 18-15 at the half, had chances to pull away and secure the win in the fourth quarter from the free throw stripe.

“We had both played three nights in a row, and that took a lot out of both teams,” he said. “All the free throws we missed were short; our legs were gone. But I take my hat off to my team for finding a way to win.”

Jacobye Davis and Reggie Lesure sank just enough free throws in the final minute to provide Potts Camp with the winning points.

Lesure finished with 14 points and Davis with 10. Luther Jones added nine.

One night earlier in the tournament’s semi-finals, Potts Camp lost a disappointing 64-46 contest against host Hickory Flat.

The Cardinals trailed 45-44 after three quarters only to be outscored 19-2 in the fourth.

“We were as down as we had been after any game in the two years I’ve been at Potts Camp,” Ferrell said. “We really invested a lot emotionally, and to play so poorly at the end after playing great for three quarters, we were really down. That loss took a lot of wind our of our sails, and that’s why I was so proud of the way we bounced back Saturday.”

Top scorers against Hickory Flat were Lesure with 13, Stephen Simon with 12 and Davis with 10. Chris Christian had nine.

Leading the Rebels were Jamarus Mitchell with 27, Nathan Clifton with 14 and Daniel Tatum with 11.

In the quarter-finals of North State on Thursday, the Cardinals got 30 points from Lesure in a 66-62 victory over Houlka.

The two teams had split games in the regular season.

“It was tight all the way,” Ferrell said. “It was two good teams battling, and one had to lose.”

Davis tossed in 17 for Potts Camp, which led 29-28 at the half, and Trey Dillard scored 10.

“I’m proud of Luther Jones,” Ferrell said. “He bit his tongue and played the whole game with a mouth full of blood.

“Chris Christian did a good job running the point, and Stephen Simon played solid defense on one of Houlka’s better players.”

Potts Camp reached the final eight in Hickory Flat with a 70-57 win at Falkner on Tuesday of last week in round one of North State play.

“It was one of the most complete team games we’ve had in a while,” he said. “We did a great job of playing defense, and it was our best job all year of being patient on offense. We spread them out and posted different players up, and they had no answer for our inside game.”

Four players scored in double digits – Davis with 26, Simon with 14, Lesure with 13 and Jones with 10.

“We were the underdog, and we played well,” Ferrell said. “We were mentally-focused on the road.”


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