Thursday, February 2, 2012
MA-Hickory Flat split games
By BARRY BURLESON
On a night when an overall championship team from 41 years ago was honored, the current Marshall Academy basketball team made a statement as it seeks the same coveted prize.
The private school Patriots, with members of the special 1971 squad in the stands, dominated public school Hickory Flat 79-40 to improve their record to 25-3. The defending Class AA state champions are ranked number one in the state.
“It was a special night,” coach Craig Dailey said. “Mike (Clifton) and I both had goose bumps as we walked out to the boys for the pre-game huddle. That’s what big-time basketball is all about.
“Having the 1970-71 team being recognized was a perfect segue to the playoffs. Coach (Noal) Akins and his boys were our school’s only back-to-back state champion and only overall basketball champion. These two things are what my boys will aspire to obtain over the next five weeks – to get us back-to-back banners and their and my first overall title which has eluded my program for 18 years. We have our best shot, but we just have to take it one practice at a time.”
Kevin Fitzpatrick lit the fire for the Patriots. He scored the first two and three minutes later when he made a steal and went the length of the court for a lay-up, MA was in control at 14-4.
The Patriots led 22-11 after one and 34-17 at the half. A red hot Brad Bennett opened the second half with a three. By quarter’s end it was 66-30.
Marshall won by 39.
Bennett led the attack with 21. Fitzpatrick followed with 15. Dakota Dailey scored 13 and Peyton Lewis 10.
“Brad is becoming a go-to player,’ Coach Dailey said. “There is no limit to how far he can go.
“Kevin was unstoppable Friday night. His energy and love for competition are infectious.
“Dakota has settled into his role of leading us from the point guard spot and taking what they give him.
“Peyton has answered my challenges and is becoming a hard matchup for anyone.
“Aaron (McAlexander), Chase (Ferrell), Matt (Rappa) and Randy (Love) had huge moments.”
The top scorer for the Rebels was Cody Gadd with eight.
Coach Dailey thanked Coach Akins and his players for coming back to MA and being a part of the present program.
“They set a high bar,” he said, “and we are doing all we can to reach that level of success. More importantly, getting to see the character of Coach and his boys was something me and my guys were humbled and honored to be a part of.”
In the first game of the evening, the Marshall girls fell 38-24 to Hickory Flat.
The Lady Patriots trailed 26-16 at the half.
The Lady Rebels stretched the lead to 15 when Kadejar Moore drove to the hoop and scored at the 3:50 mark of the fourth.
Elizabeth Skelton answered with a three for MA but the home team could not rally.
Skelton scored 10 and Emma Elgin seven for MA (12-17 on the season).
For Hickory Flat, Moore poured in 16 points.
“I’m really proud of my girls,” Dailey said. “They battled and gave ourselves a chance to compete. That’s all I can ask for. We have had a very positive year with this tough schedule and have a shot to pull a crazy upset in the playoffs if the chips fall just right.”
MA vs. Tunica
The Lady Patriots and Patriots swept Tunica Academy on Tuesday of last week in Holly Springs.
The MA girls survived some shooting woes and knocked off the Lady Blue Devils 32-26.
Elgin’s three pushed the lead to 10-6 after one quarter. It was 19-13 at the half. Tunica tied the game early in the third. Then Skelton cashed in back-to-back buckets and the Lady Pats were up 27-22. They stayed in front the rest of the way.
Elgin scored 16. Skelton had eight.
“When Emma struggles to score, we struggle to score, and sometimes the ball will not fall,” Coach Dailey said. “It is the core of why we stress defense. We found enough offense to win it. Elizabeth scored all of hers in the second half and Emma almost all hers in the first to pull it out.”
The first couple of minutes of the Marshall-Tunica boys game resulted in a 5-5 deadlock. The other 30 minutes were all Patriots. They led the Blue Devils, a top-five-ranked team in Class 1A, 60-9 at the half and won 74-34.
Fitzpatrick again provided the spark. He scored 23.
“Kevin was a man among boys,” Dailey said. “When he is in his zone, look out.”
Eleven Patriots scored. Randy Love added nine and Dailey eight.
“Randy is steadily improving and is really going to make a difference for us down the stretch,” he said. “Dakota shot well and had another good all-around game.
“Brad, Andy (Burleson) and Peyton helped us combine for eight three-pointers in the first half and defended extremely well. Aaron had six assists as we were pretty much picking our poison all night.”
Coach Beach of Tunica Academy became a believer in the Patriots.
“He is one of the founding members of our whole association and he told me after the game that my boys were ‘the best private school team he had ever seen,’” Dailey said. “That is high praise from a man of his experience, and though we are honored by it, we have to keep working to live up to it.”
MA varsity teams visited Madison Ridgeland Academy Tuesday. They host West Memphis (Ark.), the number one team in Class A, on Senior Night Friday. The boys play second-ranked Central Private (Class AA) at Kirk (in Grenada) Saturday at 7 p.m. to end the regular season.
“I ask for the MA gym and the Kirk gym to be packed Friday and Saturday,” Dailey said. “We need to get our momentum rolling for the playoff run.”
The District 1-AA Tournament will be held February 9-11 at Carroll Academy.
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