December 27, 2007
Byers takes two from county rival
The H.W. Byers Lady Lions’ undefeated record appeared in jeopardy the first half.
Then they turned to what they do best, full-court pressure defense, and that ignited a come-from-behind 72-52 win over county rival Potts Camp. The Lady Lions improved to 14-0 at the Christmas break, while the Lady Cardinals fell to 10-8.
“We made a run there and scored in bunches,” coach Jason Thompson said about his team’s second-half explosion Tuesday night, Dec. 18, at home. “We had a lot of speed on the floor and turned it up some. We applied the pressure and made some layups. Our outside shooting didn’t fall all night.”
For a good while, it looked like coach Tana Miller’s Lady Cardinals might pull the upset. Kenyotta Jenkins scored on several put-backs in the first quarter, and the visitors were up 20-14 at period’s end.
Potts Camp’s biggest lead came at the 5:43 mark of the second quarter when Jasmine Harmon drilled a three. It was 25-14.
Byers rallied to lead briefly in the second quarter but the Lady Cardinals held a 32-31 advantage at the intermission.
The Lady Cardinals shot 23 free throws in the first half, hitting 13.
“We did not make adjustments to the officiating,” Coach Thompson said of his team’s flurry of fouls. “It took us a whole half and most of us getting three fouls to figure it out. We have to be smart and keep our hands to ourselves. On defense, you use your feet.”
Potts Camp turnovers and Lady Lion layups summed up a good chunk of the third quarter. Two buckets by Rachel Jones and two more by Amanda Jones put Byers in front 52-38 with 2:34 to go in the third. The Lady Lions outscored the Lady Cardinals 24-12 in the third and went up 55-44.
But Potts Camp did not quit. Jenkins’ short shot on a fast break cut the deficit to 55-48 early in the fourth.
Byers tucked the win away, largely due to the play of its point guard, Rachel Jones.
“We feed off our point guard,” Thompson said. “If she’s clicking, we’re ready to roll.”
She converted a three-point play the old-fashioned way to stretch the lead back to 10. Then Amanda Jones’ steal and layup stretched it to 67-52. The Lady Lions went on to win by 20.
“Byers is tough,” Coach Miller said. “They exploded in the third, but my girls played hard and kept fighting. Turnovers and Byers’ offensive rebounds killed us, but I saw improvement in my team.”
Rachel Jones scored a game-high 26. Amanda Jones followed with 15, and Ciara Seldon had 11.
Jenkins’ 21-point performance led Potts Camp. Shanekqua Johnson added 13.
The Byers girls are ranked number one in the state in Class 2A and ninth overall (all classifications).
“Our goal is to play hard and get better, and that’s worked out to this point,” Thompson said. “The bullseye on our back is getting bigger.”
Lions vs. Cardinals
The H.W. Byers boys needed a big win going to the Christmas recess and they got it. Sylvester Kilgore’s Lions pulled away in the second half for an 80-58 victory, upping their record to 4-8.
“It was really good to get the win,” Coach Kilgore said. “Hopefully we can build on this. I saw much better execution tonight and a much better job of being aggressive. That’s how you win games.”
Balanced scoring was a key for H.W. Byers. Top scorers were Marvin Rayford with 22, Fred Jones with 16, Demarius Scott with 14, T.W. Bryson with 13 and Justin Owens with 12.
Leading Potts Camp, which dropped to 9-9 on the season, were Korbin Smith with 11 and Lavonte Richmond and Chris Sims with 10 each.
The first quarter was nip-and-tuck. Byers led early 8-4 on Scott’s put-back. JaVaughn Jones’ three gave Potts Camp an 11-8 advantage at the 4:15 mark. The Lions swung back in front 20-16 after the first, thanks to Scott’s three.
Byers stretched its margin to 37-26 at the half.
The closest Potts Camp could get in the second half was 10, that coming on Deshun Mitchell’s drive and basket in the third period.
The score was 58-43 after three.
The Cardinals’ big man, Sims, fouled out with 4:32 to go in the game, and Byers leading 68-53.
The home team stretched the margin to 22 by the final gun.
H.W. Byers teams will play in the Northwest Classic this week, December 27-29, which has been moved to Senatobia High School. The girls play North Panola at 1 p.m. Thursday in round one, while the boys battle Coldwater at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
The Lions and Lady Lions will compete in the Oxford Tournament January 3-5.
The Potts Camp boys are off until January 5 when they participate in the North Pontotoc Classic. The Cardinals and Lady Cardinals host Byhalia January 8.
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