Thursday, February 9, 2012
Patriots 28-3 with playoffs awaiting
By BARRY BURLESON
The Marshall Academy Patriots closed the regular season on a high note last week.
The number-one-ranked team in Class AA beat the fifth-ranked team in AAA, the top-ranked one in A and the second-ranked squad in Class AA. They’re 28-3 overall with the playoffs starting this week.
“When I scheduled our last four regular season games (including a win the previous week over Hickory Flat), I intended on us getting tested severely going into the playoffs,” coach Craig Dailey said. “That stretch run included beating a local public rival, beating MRA at MRA, a feat next to no one has pulled off in the last several years, and then finishing with the number one A team (West Memphis Christian) and number two AA team (Central Private) on back-to-back nights. This was borderline crazy, even for us, but for the boys to pull it off in a pretty anti-climactic matter like we did, shows just how good this group can be.”
The Lady Patriots split the two games they played last week and finished the regular season at 13-18.
“I’m proud of how this bunch has competed,” Dailey said. “They could have lain down but didn’t and have had some very bright moments. We plan to pin our ears back and see how deep we can go in the playoffs.
“We play Carroll Thursday (in the district tournament) to punch a ticket to north state. Once we get in, it will come down to beating two state championship level teams to just qualify for state (five of the top seven AA girls teams are in the north), so the kids are going to battle and see how well we can finish.”
The Patriots survived a see-saw battle on the road with big school Madison-Ridgeland Academy. They won 65-61 January 31.
Marshall was down 6-0 early but went up 13-10 on Kevin Fitzpatrick’s three with 1:00 left in the first quarter.
MRA snatched the advantage back to start the second quarter. But MA led by five when Dakota Dailey nailed a three with less than a minute to go until halftime. The visiting Patriots were up 37-34 at intermission.
The lead swapping continued in the second half.
Marshall led 43-38 two minutes into the third on Peyton Lewis’ bomb. It was tied at 51 after three.
Free throws proved crucial down the stretch. Brad Bennett, Andy Burleson, Dailey, Chase Ferrell and Lewis all hit some big ones.
Dailey poured in 18 points and Fitzpatrick 14. Bennett and Lewis added 12 and 11, respectively.
The Marshall girls took it on the chin, 56-22, versus MRA, ranked fifth in Class AAA.
MA was down only nine, 16-7, after one quarter but the deficit stretched to 37-10 at the half.
Emma Elgin scored more than half of Marshall’s points. She had 14.
The Lady Pats and Pats added the icing to the “Senior Night” cake with a sweep of West Memphis Christian Friday night at home.
The MA girls, leading 14-12 after one quarter thanks to some big buckets from Elizabeth Skelton, started to pull away in the second period. Lane Cunningham’s putback made it 23-16 with 3:30 to go before the break. Elgin’s drive and bucket with three ticks to go upped the margin to 31-18.
Codie Robertson had back-to-back buckets late in the third, and then the lead rose to 15 on Chelsey Gilliam’s basket late in the third.
The Lady Knights got to within eight in the fourth.
Elgin fired in 18 points. Skelton scored 15.
The Marshall boys’ long-anticipated clash with the Black Knights, a former district foe, turned into a rout. The Patriots torched West Memphis 81-55.
Burleson’s three gave the Pats early control at 9-2. The score was 18-9 after one period. MA picked up its full-court-pressing, running-and gunning style in the second quarter.
Dailey’s drive and hoop stretched the lead to 20 (39-19) two minutes before the half. It was 42-21 at the break.
All the Patriots played in the second half as the home team won by 26.
Dailey was the top gun with 22. Others in double figures were Bennett with 13 and Fitzpatrick with 10. Twelve MA players scored.
MA boys-Central Private
The Pats were down 2-0 and 5-4 early to Central Private Saturday night, but that would be the only times they would trail all night.
They led by as many as 20 in the battle between top five Class AA powers before winning 58-45. It was played at Kirk Academy in Grenada, site of the state tournament February 20-25.
Fitzpatrick and Aaron McAlexander cashed in shots within seven seconds of one another to end the first quarter. Marshall was up 19-7.
Dailey’s three made it 29-9 with 2:30 to go in the second. It was 29-15 at halftime.
The Rebels got to within 11 in the third, but the Patriots showed no panic. Lewis sank a turnaround shot in the lane, and early in the fourth the scoreboard read 45-29.
MA led 51-31 in the fourth and won by 13.
Dailey and Lewis gunned in 18 and 11 points, respectively. Fitzpatrick had nine.
The Patriots will play in the District 1-AA semi-finals Friday versus the North Delta-Indianola winner.
“The kids had a tremendous regular season and I would like to thank the MA family for your love and support,” Dailey said. “Now everybody is 0-0. For this group and in particular our seniors, I hope that ‘final horn’ involves a trip to Clinton and a big ‘gold ball,’ but regardless they are going to make us proud and give it all they’ve got. It should be a fun next four weeks. I hope everybody comes out and does their part to help us make a ‘Hoosier-esk’ dream come true.”
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