Thursday, February 24, 2011
Patriots bring home state crown
By BARRY BURLESON
There’s a new king in Class AA basketball.
The Marshall Academy Patriots blasted Bowling Green in round one of the state tournament last week, dethroned host Brookhaven Academy (owners of six straight state championships) in the semi-finals and then downed Simpson Academy for the championship.
Head coach Craig Dailey immediately praised his five seniors, who were in the seventh grade when he came to Marshall.
“I am beyond words proud of my ‘grasshopper’ group - Taylor (Maurey), Jordan (Brock), Mitch (Gholson), John (Tomlinson) and Joey (Omedeo),” he said. “They truly deserve this. I’m so glad they got to experience this feeling.
“I am fortunate enough for this to be my program’s 10th title (nine at Delta coaching girls and boys), but none took this much of an investment. It is extremely special.”
The Patriots shook off some cobwebs versus Bowling Green Wednesday of last week in the quarter-finals and won 58-36.
Marshall fell behind 6-1 and trailed 10-7 after one quarter. With 6:12 to go in the second period, Chase Ferrell stole the ball, scored and was fouled. He also hit the free throw and the Pats led 14-12. They never trailed again.
Dakota Dailey drilled back-to-back threes and it was 25-12 with 2:10 left in the first half.
MA steadily upped its margin the rest of the way and won by 22.
“Put-out games are always tough, and the kids responded well,” Coach Dailey said.
Ten Patriots scored. Taylor Maurey and Dailey led the attack with 13 points each. Ferrell added nine.
Brookhaven got some early momentum on a dunk, but after that, the “Cougar Nation” was pretty much silent. MA gained control late in the first period on two Dailey threes and another by Peyton Lewis and went on to celebrate a huge 57-41 victory Friday in the semi-finals.
“The kids executed the game plan to perfection,” Coach Dailey said. “It was almost as satisfying as winning state (the next night). They (the Brookhaven Cougars) are the bar by which we all have been measured and it felt like destiny to be the team that knocked them off.
“Six straight championships is amazing. It feels good to be able to put an end to such a great accomplishment. Challenges like this are why we work the way we work. That kind of dedication isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK.”
The Patriots, after Maurey made his patented move to the hoop for two points, led Brookhaven 20-11 at the end of the first quarter.
The Pats’ aggressive, high-pressure defense limited the Cougars to just one point in the second quarter. At the half, MA was up 28-12.
The closest the host team got in the third was 10. Kevin Fitzpatrick’s putback with 57 seconds to go in the third put the Pats on top 36-24.
Brookhaven was forced to foul in the fourth. Dailey nailed the bulk of the free throws in the fourth, with Lewis and Maurey also cashing in under pressure. MA won by 16.
Four Patriots scored in double digits - Dailey with 17, Maurey and Lewis with 13 each and Fitzpatrick with 10.
The Patriots turned to their “in-your-face” defense once again in the championship war Saturday and beat Simpson 55-45. It was their second win of the week over Simpson, after beating the Cougars Monday, Feb. 14, for the North AA crown.
“A gutter war describes this affair,” Dailey said about the state title triumph. “It’s tough to get in a ‘rugby’ match with my guys. We aren’t afraid to push back.”
Fitzpatrick provided some early energy and points as MA grabbed an 11-8 advantage. Dailey sank a three just before the first-quarter horn. The Pats led 18-10.
Dailey opened the second quarter with a three and then John Tomlinson made a steal and passed to Ferrell for a lay-up.
MA took a 31-16 lead to the locker room at intermission.
Brookhaven cut it to 10 in the first couple of minutes of the second half but Maurey ended the third with a basket and the margin was 41-28.
The Pats led by as many as 15 in the fourth on another Maurey drive and lay-up. Then down the stretch, Dailey and Maurey sealed the deal from the charity stripe.
The Patriots won by 10 - setting off a huge on-the-court celebration for the players and their fans.
Dailey was again the top gun with 16. Maurey was close behind with 15. Ferrell scored 10 and Fitzpatrick nine.
Coach Dailey said outstanding team defense made the difference all week - particularly pointing out the “beastly” efforts of Jordan Brock, Ferrell and Tomlinson.
It was the Patriots’ first state basketball championship since 2002.
Named to the all-tournament team were Maurey, Ferrell, Lewis and Dailey.
The Patriots improved their record to 31-7. They faced Trinity Tuesday in the first round of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Overall Tournament. It is being played at Mississippi College in Clinton. The semi-finals and championship game are set for Friday and Saturday, respectively.
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