Thursday, February 5, 2009
Patriots capture district crown
By BARRY BURLESON
The Marshall Academy junior high Patriots capped an outstanding 22-3 season by celebrating a district championship Saturday night in Carrollton.
“The junior high boys had to step up and fill some big shoes from last year’s undefeated district champs,” said head coach David Austin, in his first year at MA. “They carried over a (district) winning streak that spanned several years as well.
“The pressure was on them from the start before they ever really had much experience. Starting a sixth grader (Dakota Dailey), a seventh grader (John Wesley Ray), two eighth graders (Aaron McAlexander and Matt Rappa) and one freshman (Andy Burleson) didn’t make things easy.
“This team worked hard and responded very well when they were pushed. They played very well all year and stepped up to make plays during the district tournament when we needed them. I am very proud of this team and all it has accomplished. Having almost all of them back next year will certainly have an impact then.”
The Patriots had to beat Carroll Academy on its home floor for the first-place trophy, and they did just that. The final score was 56-48. It was their third win of the season over the Rebels.
Marshall led 17-10 after one quarter, fell behind by one with 2:45 to go in the first half and then rebounded for a 26-19 halftime advantage.
The Patriots went up by as many as 11 in the third quarter and stayed in control the rest of the way. They hit nine of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
Aaron McAlexander scored 23 points, while Matt Rappa had 11 and Dakota Dailey 10. Rounding out the scoring were Ray with eight and Burleson with four.
The MA junior high boys reached the title game with a 53-26 rout of Lee (Clarksdale).
The Pats held a 24-13 halftime lead and stretched it to a 21-point advantage in the third period before winning by 27.
McAlexander was the top scorer with 26.
The two wins in the district tournament capped an 11-game winning streak in the post-holiday portion of their schedule.
The Marshall junior high boys started January with a 57-22 blowout of Lee (Ark.). Top point producers were Rappa and Zach Pritchett with 16 each and McAlexander with 15.
MA, led by McAlexander’s 27 points and Rappa’s 13, beat Carroll 54-51.
Next the Patriots used a strong second half to down Lee (Clarksdale) 43-26. McAlexander scored 14 and Pritchett nine.
In perhaps the biggest game of the second half of the season, other than the district championship, Marshall knocked off Magnolia Heights 47-45. The Pats rallied rom a 40-27 deficit after three periods. McAlexander scored 23. Burleson scored all nine of his points in the fourth quarter including a four-point play (a three and a free throw) down the stretch and then the game-winning bucket in the closing seconds. Rappa added eight.
Marshall then cruised past Indianola 55-28. Top scorers were McAlexander with 20 and Rappa with 10.
The Patriots then defeated district rival Kirk 47-34. McAlexander poured in 29 points. Ray followed with nine.
Coach Austin’s squad survived a close game with Memphis Area Home Education Association (MHEA), winning 54-45. The lead was 24-20 at the half. Rappa led the way with 20. McAlexander scored 16.
Next the Patriots found themselves trailing Lee (Clarksdale) by one at the half but rallied for a 42-32 win. Scoring 10 points each were Ray, Rappa and McAlexander. Burleson contributed eight.
Marshall then ended the regular season with an easy 53-20 win over Indianola. McAlexander scored 17 and Rappa 10.
The team went 12-0 against district opponents this season.
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