Lee for district crown
Lady Patriots take runners-up trophy
The smiles, hugs and congratulations were plentiful at the Marshall Academy gymnasium Saturday evening.
The Patriots and Lady Patriots earned the right to go to North State this week with first- and second-place finishes, respectively, in the District 1-AA Tournament.
Coach Craig Daileys top-seeded Patriots knocked off nemesis Lee 49-34 for the district gold. The Colts had beaten MA twice in the regular season.
We knew going in that Lee is a good team, but we had not played them like were capable, said Dailey, in his first season at Marshall after loads of success at Delta Academy. When Coach (Tommy) Gunn hired me, he made the statement he wanted me to do here what we were able to do at Delta. Were getting there. We want to contend for every championship.
Long-range shooter John David Sanders provided the spark early against Lee. He hit four threes in the first half en route to a 16-point night.
MA was in control, 28-14, at the intermission.
John David is a big-time player, and Ive found big-time players play big in big games, Dailey said. He couldnt have played any bigger Saturday.
Dailey also said big man John Greer played his best game of the season and Thomas Rodgers provided his typical strong inside presence.
Thomas leadership has been exceptional all season, he said, and Will (Forester) stepped up with his ball-handling, and made two huge free throws late in the game.
Rodgers added 12 points for the Patriots. Forester scored 10.
Brent Adams pitched in with seven, but even more importantly, Dailey praised him for his defense against Lee star Jesse Spinks. Spinks scored just seven points, just two field goals.
Brent played a lot bigger than a sophomore, Dailey said.
The Patriots, who improved to 27-10, put the game away by going nine of 14 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
The great thing about coaching kids is building character, Dailey said. Im proud of this group.
It has been a long road, and weve still got work to do. But were playing championship caliber basketball.
The Patriots made it to the finals thanks to a 55-35 rout of Bayou in the semi-finals Friday.
The game was tied at 25 at the half but MA held Bayou to just 10 second-half points.
Rodgers poured in 22 points, 13 in the first half, and J.D. Sanders scored 18, including two big threes in the third quarter.
We came out a little sluggish, but we had had four days of tough practice and hadnt played in over a week, Dailey said. It was about what I expected.
We really responded in the second half. Defensively, we stuck it to them pretty good, and they have some talented players.
Named to the all-tournament team were J.D. Sanders, Forester, Rodgers and Adams.
Coach Keith Taylors third-seeded Lady Patriots upset second-seeded Bayou in the district tournament semi-finals before losing a close one to top-seeded Indianola in the title game, 66-56.
Bayou is ranked fourth in the state in AA, while Indianola is third.
Im happy with the way we played against two ranked teams on back-to-back nights, said Taylor, who has no seniors on his squad. We were within three of Indianola in the fourth quarter but couldnt pull it out. A lot of that is youth. Experience is what we lack.
Freshman Traci Rodgers, stepping up from the junior high team, led the varsity Lady Patriots in the championship contest. She scored 22 points, including a 10-of-15 showing from the free-throw stripe. Lindsay Taylor followed with 12 points. Chelsea Faulkenbery had nine and Kim Shaw eight points and eight rebounds.
MA, which improved to 25-17 on the season, was 27 of 42 from the charity line.
It was Shaws show in the 75-65 victory over Bayou on Friday. She poured 33 points, including a super 17-of-19 performance from the free throw stripe. She was also the top rebounder with six.
Taylor added 12, including three threes, and Allie Kriss and Rodgers also had 12 points each.
Free-throw shooting was a big key to the victory. The Lady Patriots hit 23 of 27 (85.2 percent).
It was probably the best all-around game weve played, Coach Taylor said. We did a good job defensively. We got their big girls in foul trouble early.
MA led 35-31 at the half and 54-41 after three quarters. Bayou got closer earlier in the fourth but the Lady Patriots held their ground.
I like the way we fought back at the end and didnt crack, Taylor said. Everybody stepped up and played their roles. It was a huge win.
In the opening round Wednesday of last week, the MA girls struggled a bit but survived. They beat Carroll 40-29.
Our ninth graders stepped and played hard in the second quarter and held them scoreless for three minutes, Taylor said. The high school girls were struggling. We were fortunate to get past the first round.
The Lady Patriots were up 12-4 after one quarter, 22-11 at the half and 28-15 following three periods.
Shaw led the way with 12 points and six rebounds. Taylor added nine points.
Named to the all-tournament team were Shaw, Taylor and Rodgers.
North AA Tournament
Both Marshall teams open play in the North AAA Tournament Wednesday night of this week at Leake Academy in Madden.
The Lady Patriots face Winston Academy at 6:30 p.m., while the Patriots go against Simpson Academy at at 7:45 p.m.
With a win, the MA girls would advance to the semi-finals Friday at 2:15 p.m. against the Leake Academy-Kirk Academy winner.
With a win, the MA boys go to the semi-finals to face the Indianola Academy-University Christian survivor on Friday at 7:15 p.m.
The girls consolation and championship games are at 1 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. Saturday. The boys consolation and title contests are at 6 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Saturday
The top four teams (girls and boys) go on to the State AA Tournament next week at East Rankin.
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