Thursday, February 19, 2009
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy just couldn’t get over the hump in the semi-finals of the Class AA North State Tournament.
They trailed Leake throughout, getting as close as one with 3:57 to go in the second quarter and slicing the deficit to three twice in the fourth before losing 66-59.
“Our youth showed but we hung in there,” coach Craig Dailey said about his “senior-less” team. “It was a championship-type atmosphere, and we didn’t look comfortable at times.
“But we battled. We just couldn’t get the break when we needed it. The ball just didn’t bounce our way.”
MA had beaten Tri-County soundly in round one at Canton, and the loss to Leake sent the Pats into Saturday’s consolation game versus Lee (Clarksdale). They fell to the Colts, finished fourth, yet still advanced to this week’s State Tournament at Brookhaven.
Caleb Byrd’s long-range shooting kept the Patriots close to Leake in the early going. They trailed 16-11 after one quarter, cut it to 24-23 midway through the second and were behind 36-28 at halftime and 49-44 after three.
Chase Ferrell and Jordan Brock had buckets early in the fourth quarter that cut the deficit to three both times but the Rebels nailed down the seven-point win from the free-throw stripe.
Byrd was the top gun with 17 points. Ferrell was next with 13, while Brock scored 11 and Taylor Maurey 10.
The MA boys blasted Tri-County 80-45 in round one of North State Tuesday of last week.
They exploded to a 16-4 advantage early and were up 40-16 at intermission.
MA hit seven threes in the game - two by Byrd, two by Kendall Harris, two by Andy Burleson and one by Aaron McAlexander.
McAlexander led the Marshall scorers with 15 points. Byrd and Ferrell followed with 14 each. Brock scored 11.
The Pats were 15 of 24 from the free-throw stripe.
District rivals Marshall and Lee collided in the North State consolation game Saturday evening. The Pats had beaten the Colts three times - including one week earlier for the district tournament crown.
“We should have played better, but it’s not like Lee is not a good team,” Dailey said. “They’re better than they played us all year. They went at us inside Saturday, and we didn’t handle it well.”
Byrd’s hot shooting was the bright spot for MA. The third of his three threes in the second quarter rallied the Patriots from a 13-9 deficit after one quarter to a 20-19 lead.
But it didn’t hold up. Lee went back in front 32-25 at the half.
MA fell behind by as many as 11 points in the third quarter, got back within four on another Byrd three and then found itself down by 12 with 4:16 to go in the game.
But the Patriots didn’t roll over and play dead. Brock’s drive and bucket with 42 seconds pulled Marshall within two, 54-52. It was a free-throw shooting contest from there with Lee winning by five.
Byrd, who made the all-tournament squad, scorched the nets for 27 points. Maurey added 11.
The Marshall boys (22-14) face Bowling Green Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. in the opening round of the State Tournament at Brookhaven. With a win, they will meet the Canton-Chamberlain Hunt survivor Friday at 6 p.m. in the semi-finals and also automatically qualify for the Mississippi Private School Association Overall Tournament.
“Bowling Green is a very good team,” Dailey said. “It’s tough all the way around at this point. But we’re also opposite Leake, Brookhaven and Trinity in the bracket. We just have to do our job this week.
“We have to beat Bowling Green to stay alive, and to make overall would be big.”
The State Tournament wraps up Saturday.
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