Thursday, January 26, 2012
MA boys finish perfect in district
By BARRY BURLESON
Coach Craig Dailey said one of his players, Kevin Fitzpatrick, told him last week, “Coach, it’s my favorite time of the year.”
That’s because the playoffs start soon.
The Marshall Academy Patriots, defending Class AA state champs, wrapped up regular season district play last week at 8-0. They’re 23-3 overall.
“We will go into the district tournament (at Carroll, February 9-11) as number one,” Dailey said. “We are just going to take it one step at a time and see how good we can be.”
The Lady Patriots lost a pair of District 1-AA games last week, moving them to 3-5 in the division and 11-16 overall.
“It looks like we will face Carroll in the first round of district and then, with a win, the number one seed, North Delta, in the semi-finals – who we have competed well against all year,” Dailey said. “Anything is possible if we just keep battling.”
MA vs. Indianola
It was almost like the Colonels never knew what hit them Friday in Holly Springs.
The Patriots stormed out of the starting gate for a 46-8 halftime lead. The final was 62-23.
“We still have a long way to go,” Dailey said, “and a lot of improvement that is possible, but when that snowball gets rolling like that, it doesn’t take long to be an avalanche.”
Ten of 15 Patriots scored. Peyton Lewis led the way with 13. Fitzpatrick and Dakota Dailey scored 10 each. Randy Love had nine and Brad Bennett eight.
“Peyton exploded from the opening tip,” Dailey said. “Dakota played his normal solid game – taking what they gave him. Brad had a big offensive first quarter, and he is establishing himself as a very competent defender.
“Kevin was Kevin – flying around and making plays. Randy had a huge second quarter. I am so proud of him and how he has fit into our system so quickly.”
The Lady Patriots, scoring just 11 points in the second half, fell 53-41 to Indianola Academy in a battle for the third seed in the district tournament.
The MA girls lived at the free-throw line in the first half and led 30-25 at the break. Emma Elgin finished with 25 points. In the first half, she was 11 of 15 from the charity stripe. Elizabeth Skelton had 10 points, five of those coming on free throws in the first half.
The Lady Pats hit six field goals in the first half and three in the second half.
They were down 38-31 entering the fourth quarter.
“Scoring one point in the third was just too much to overcome,” Dailey said.
“Emma had a big offensive night. It should have been enough to carry us. We must defend them better. Elizabeth had a good first half. We, as a group, just couldn’t get much going in the second half.”
MA vs. Kirk
The Marshall boys continued to dominate their district foes, beating Kirk Academy 60-28 Saturday in Grenada.
The lead was 35-16 at intermission.
“We went into the locker room up 19 points and it was very somber,” Dailey said. “Then I thought, ‘well, you did run the heck out of them Tuesday for a 26-point win.’ Quickly, I let them know we had played well; they just hit some tough shots. It is not about the win or the loss. It is about execution and effort. They did both well Saturday night.”
Lewis drilled a long three just before the halftime buzzer for the 19-point advantage.
Early in the third, Matt Rappa hit a three and then a two to push the lead to 44-19.
Lewis was the top gun with 11 points. Dailey had 10, Fitzpatrick eight and Chase Ferrell and Rappa seven each.
“Peyton is a huge cog in our wheel and he had a good game,” Dailey said. “Dakota scorched them in the first quarter and then just distributed later.
“I can see Kevin’s intensity level rising as we get closer to the playoffs. Matt had one of his best games in a while. He is developing into a great all-around player. Chase has had some tough luck with fouls in previous games. He found another gear tonight. Aaron (McAlexander) and Andy (Burleson) had some solid minutes against Kirk.”
MA has five games left in the regular season – Tunica Academy, Hickory Flat, Madison Ridgeland Academy, West Memphis (Ark.) Christian and Central Private (La.).
“We hit a big run of tough games the next two weeks,” Dailey said. “It should be a fun close to the regular season.”
There will be only two varsity games, girls and boys, at home versus Hickory Flat Friday. The Lady Patriots and Lady Rebels begin action at 6 p.m.
“I want to ask our student section and fan base in general to come out in droves and get yourselves warmed up for the playoffs,” he said. “The close proximity of North State (Batesville) and State (Grenada) should give us a huge advantage, but only if the MA family comes and shows the kids their love.
“The battles in the stands should rival the ones on the floor. That’s what big-time high school basketball is all about.”
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