Thursday, February 8, 2007
Both Marshall Academy junior high basketball teams hoisted first-place trophies on Tuesday night of last week.
But the District 1-AA championships on the home court did not come easy. The Lady Patriots and Patriots pulled out four- and three-point wins, respectively, over rival Delta Academy.
Emily Burk scored eight of her 16 points in the fourth quarter, including huge back-to-back threes late in the game, as the Lady Patriots won 27-23.
“This was an extremely hard-fought game on both sides,” coach Craig Dailey said. “I knew it was going to be a dogfight, and I’m so proud of how these girls answered the challenge.
“Emily just basically put us on her shoulders offensively in that fourth quarter.”
Casey Gibson iced the victory by calmly sinking two free throws with just two ticks left on the clock.
The game was a nail-biter throughout. MA’s Callie Clanton opened the game with a three to provide early momentum.
The Lady Patriots were up 7-6 after the first quarter and 15-12 at the half. Delta led 17-16 following three quarters.
Dailey said his team’s defense was “as good as I’ve ever had in junior girls.”
He praised the relentless defense of Lauralee Fant, Gibson and Kelsey Shaw.
“They provided some tremendous defensive pressure,” Dailey said.
“Emma (Elgin) provided some huge minutes. And I want to thank Natalee Mitchell and Cameron Gant for their hard work.”
The MA junior high girls finished the season at 25-4.
“We made some huge mental steps this year toward getting where we need to be to contend for state throughout their careers,” he said.
The Lady Patriots reached the finals with an easy 45-20 win Monday of last week over Lee (Clarksdale).
Shaw led the offensive attack with 10 points. Burk scored nine, while Clanton and Elgin had eight each. Clanton hit two threes.
“The 18-2 run in the first quarter was a huge statement by the girls,” Dailey said. “We had struggled versus Clarksdale Lee’s gimmick defensive all year, but not tonight.”
Somehow, someway, the Marshall Academy junior high points scored just four points in the first half and still won the game, 32-29.
“Four points at halftime, that was the ugliest half one of my teams has ever played,” Dailey said. “We looked like ‘deer in the headlights’ and Delta ran over us.”
The Patriots got is first points of the game from Tyler Childers with 3:02 to go in the first period. They didn’t score again until John Tomlinson’s putback with just eight seconds to go in the second quarter.
“We had been working about two weeks in every practice on attacking their zone,” Dailey said. “They force you to throw it inside, and that isn’t our strength. It looked like we had drawn that offense up in the sand before the game.”
So as any good coach would, he ditched the plan in the second half.
“About the middle of the third, I decided to scrap it and go to our ‘Helter Skelter’ offense and defense - trap and fog it,” he said.
It worked. The Patriots, down 12-4 at the time, went on a 28-17 run to finish the game and claim gold.
“The kids pulled out the win and that says a whole lot about their character,” Dailey said.
Caleb Byrd scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. Matt Dalton added nine points. The two combined for four fourth-quarter threes – two each.
“Caleb came through with some huge shots and steals down the stretch,” he said. “He had a tremendous freshman year, and I look forward to seeing him develop over the next few years.
“Matt had some huge threes, too. Once he gets going, it’s hard to stop him.
“Jordan (Brock) helped us finally come alive offensively, hitting some big shots and making some key steals.”
Full-court, pressure defense also helped turn the game in MA’s favor. Dailey praised the defense of Childers, Hank Owens and Tomlinson. He said all three showed a lot of hustle and determination.
The Patriots wrapped up the season at 18-3.
“Taylor (Maurey) came on down the stretch of the season to really contribute some big minutes,” Dailey said. “Jake (Omedeo) had a good freshman year, and I want to thank Kendall (Harris) for his hard work.”
The Patriots advanced to the title contest by dominating Lee (Marianna, Ark.) 41-20 on Monday night of last week.
Byrd was the top gun with 18 points. He scored 11 of those in the third quarter. Omedeo added 12 and Jordan Brock eight.
“Jake (Omedeo) played his best game of the year,” Dailey said. “He controlled the offensive boards, snatching 11.”
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