Thursday, February 28, 2008
MA teams fall at state
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy varsity basketball teams saw their successful seasons end last week in the first round of the State AA Basketball Tournament at Grenada.
The MA girls fell to Prairie View by 10 points. The Marshall boys lost to Brookhaven by two.
The Lady Patriots led 36-33 after three quarters versus Prairie View but couldn’t hang on. The Lady Spartans went on a 16-3 run in the fourth and ousted MA 49-39.
Traci Rodgers poured in 22 points. Emily Burk added nine.
“Traci lit them up through three quarters, and then they were able to find an answer in the fourth,” coach Craig Dailey said. “Emily had a solid offensive game.”
He said his Lady Patriots had no answer for Prairie View’s Caroline Oliphant, who scored 25 points.
“She’s one of the best we’ve seen this year,” he said.
The Marshall girls finished the season with a 24-17 record.
“Jessica (Taylor) had a good senior year and really finished strong on the floor and leadership-wise,” Coach Taylor said.
“The rest of the team is back and there’s a very strong freshmen group. The future looks bright if we are willing to work.
“At the end of the day a big ole ‘Goliath’ in Leake stands in the way for any AA girls team.
“The potential is there, but a different level of commitment must be reached to knock off the AA’s giant.”
The Marshall Academy boys, the North’s top team, appeared down and out at halftime to Brookhaven but rallied and had their chances in the second half. They lost 56-54.
Both teams were ranked in Class AA’s top five the bulk of the season, but the Cougars were upset in South State and finished fourth.
“Brookhaven must have had a horrible South State because this could have very easily been the state championship game,” Coach Dailey.
The Patriots trailed 32-20 at the break. They opened the second half with a 14-0 run that put them in front 34-32. The game was tied at 36 after three.
The lead seesawed some in the fourth but the Cougars grabbed it for good with 1:33 to go.
MA trailed 54-52 with about 10 seconds to go and almost came up with a steal on Brookhaven’s in-bounds play. But instead a Cougar broke free for the clinching bucket.
“We battled back from 12 down, and it was a testament to the heart of this group,” Dailey said. “I’m proud of us not quitting.”
Top scorers were Gene Alexin with 17 and Nick Tate with 16.
“Gene had a huge game,” he said. “Going ‘Teel’ the second half, with Gene penetrating, got us back in it,” he said. “‘Teel is our 1-4 low set that I stole from the Megan Teel days with the girls here. I’ve run it for years, and it gave them fits due to Gene’s ability to penetrate.”
Dailey said it just “wasn’t our night.”
“We just couldn’t get enough looks, but I’m sure their defensive intensity had a lot to do with that. Nick had good offensive production and really battled. Brent (Adams), Hunter (Bolden) and Tyler’s (Sanders) pressure on the press in the second half gave us a shot to win. Caleb (Byrd) hit a big three late.
“We just couldn’t get the bounce we when we needed it. The almost steal at the end is indicative of the entire night.”
The Patriots end the season 24-8.
“This senior group (Adams, Alexin, Tate, Sanders and Wesley Harris) has laid a strong foundation on which I hope a state title will soon rest,” Coach Dailey said. “I’m going to be a Cougar fan the rest of the year. I hope they win it; they deserve it.”
He said he appreciates the “outpouring of support” for MA student Bradley Reece that the “Brookhaven nation” has shown. Reece, battling leukemia, recently had a bone marrow transplant.
“It shows a lot about their character,” Dailey said.
Editor’s Note: The Brookhaven boys went on to win the Class AA state championship. The Leake girls claimed the state AA crown.
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