Thursday, March 8, 2012
MA second overall, finishes season 38-4
By BARRY BURLESON
Craig Dailey has coached many great high school basketball teams – but none better than this season’s Marshall Academy Patriots.
“I’m so proud of them,” he said. “We were one of the last two standing. This will go down as the best season I’ve had to date.”
The Patriots, Class AA state champions, lost 50-45 Saturday afternoon to Jackson Prep, Class AAA’s top team, in the finals of the Overall Tournament. It was played at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College in Clinton.
The Pats finished 38-4.
“We played an extremely tough schedule – regular season and the playoffs,” said Dailey, who has been a head coach 17 years and won 11 state championships – nine at Delta Academy and two at MA. “I don’t believe I’ve ever had a tougher schedule. Our run in the state tournament this year was unbelievable. This is a special group.”
MA vs. Prep
He called it “an uphill climb” for a Class A or Class AA team in the Overall Tournament. That’s because most of the time the bigger schools in Class AAA prevail.
“They probably have more kids in one class than we have in our whole school,” said Dailey, talking about Jackson Prep.
But his Patriots almost knocked off the giant.
After falling behind 12-7, MA took its first lead over Prep with 5:28 to go in the second quarter. Kevin Fitzpatrick drained a three for a 15-14 score.
Marshall was up 21-19 at the half.
The lead changed hands a couple of times in the third. At the end of the period, Marshall trailed 35-33.
The deficit stretched to seven (41-34) but MA cut it back to three (45-42) with 1:06 to go.
Free throws proved costly in the five-point loss. MA was three of eight in the fourth quarter and 11 of 24 in the game.
“We obviously had opportunities, but they missed free throws, too,” Dailey said. “It came down to the bounce of the ball – if a few could have gone our way. In a game like that, it either happens or it doesn’t. You could pick anything out, and obviously free throws were a factor. But we did a lot of things right. It just didn’t happen for us.”
Prep ended its season with a 38-1 record.
Fitzpatrick led MA with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Dakota Dailey had 12 and Brad Bennett nine.
Starter Chase Ferrell tried to go on a sore ankle injured the night before but had to sit out most of the second half.
There was dejection after the loss but Dailey said smiles prevailed.
“It’s hard to get there (to the Overall Tournament championship game),” said Dailey, who has only had four teams make it that far. “You have to realize how much you’ve accomplished to get to that point.”
Named to the all-tournament team were Fitzpatrick, Peyton Lewis, Bennett, and Dailey.
MA vs. Hillcrest
The Patriots eliminated one of the Class AAA powerhouses, Hillcrest Christian in the semi-finals Friday night. The final was 74-56.
“Hillcrest has a lot of tradition,” Dailey said.
Leading by just four (32-28) at the half, Marshall stormed out of the locker room.
Lewis drilled a three less than two minutes into the third and the lead was 39-28.
Hillcrest called a timeout, trying to regroup.
But a minute later MA’s run to start the second half increased to 11-0. Dailey cashed in a bucket, following a pass from Fitzpatrick, and it was 43-28.
Hillcrest called another timeout.
The Cougars didn’t die. They cut it to seven (54-47) early in the fourth but after that it was all Pats. They went on to win by 18.
Lewis was the top gun with 19. He had 10 rebounds. Four others scored in double digits – Dailey with 16, Bennett with 13 and Aaron McAlexander and Ferrell with 10 each.
MA vs. West Memphis
Marshall downed the West Memphis Christian Black Knights 67-52 in the quarter-finals Tuesday of last week.
The Patriots were up 21-15 after a quarter, 37-25 at halftime and 50-33 following three periods.
“That first game at Overall is always rough,” Coach Dailey said. “You’re playing in that college gym and usually at an odd time (4 p.m. this year).”
The leading point producer for MA was Dailey with 24. He was nine of 10 from the free-throw stripe. Fitzpatrick added 14 points, nine in the first quarter. McAlexander had 10 and Bennett nine. Eight Patriots scored.
Marshall loses four seniors – Ferrell, Fitzpatrick, Andy Burleson and Kirby Jones.
“I’ve never had a better group,” Coach Dailey said. “That was the hardest thing about Saturday (after the last game) – seeing them leave my program. They’re our heart and soul. I can’t say enough good things about them.”
Dailey also thanked the entire MA family for supporting the Patriots this season.
“That is what sports brings to a school our size – togetherness,” he said. “The whole community got behind us.”
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