Thursday, January 31, 2013
MA teams sew up top seeds
By BARRY BURLESON
One entered the season as the overwhelming district favorite. The other has risen to the top.
Coach Craig Dailey’s Marshall Academy teams will enter the District 1-AA Tournament February 7-9 as the number one seeds.
The MA boys, two-time defending state champs, finished district play last week at 8-0. They’re 24-3 overall.
“Like I told the kids, undefeated in conference is nothing to sneeze at,” Dailey said. “We have made it commonplace, but really, it’s just a step on the AA climb.
“I cannot wait for the playoff run. It’s going to be fun. Everybody get ready to travel.”
The Marshall girls finished off a determined district run to go 7-1. They’re 18-11 overall.
“Seldom in my coaching career have I been as proud of a group – to come from where we were in June to the number one seed in district,” Dailey said. “That’s amazing. We just can’t be satisfied and have to finish this in the tournament, but this sets us up well.”
MA versus Kirk
The Marshall girls avenged an earlier district loss by turning back Kirk Academy 42-39 Tuesday night, Jan. 22.
“Getting this ‘monkey’ off our backs was big mentally as much as for our district seeding,” Coach Dailey said.
The battle was a close one throughout.
The Lady Pats fell behind by five but when Blake Martin and Elizabeth Skelton hit back-to-back threes late in the first quarter, they were up 14-13.
MA, thanks to a couple more threes from Skelton, stretched the advantage to 24-18 at halftime.
Kirk fought back to tie in the third.
The rivals swapped leads in the fourth but Martin, an eighth grader, took over in the clutch. She sank a shot in the lane and then hit three of four free-throw tries late as the Lady Patriots won by three.
Skelton and Martin were the top guns with 18 and 17 points, respectively.
Megan Watkins, the lone 12th grader for the Lady Patriots, was honored on “Senior Night.” She transferred to Marshall prior to this school year.
“Megan played her last game in the MA gym, and though it has been short, her impact has been big,” Dailey said. “I will truly miss her on and off the floor – just wish I would have had her earlier.”
In the late game, the Marshall boys were in control throughout and routed the Raiders 86-39.
The lead was 24-5 after the first quarter.
Kirk cut it to 12 at the half (39-27) but MA turned up the defensive heat and the high-powered offense again in the third to surge ahead 66-39.
“Being ‘Senior Night,’ I tried to play a little deeper and it threw off our rhythm a little, but it didn’t take long to fix that as we went into the second half,” Dailey said.
Dalton Pritchard scored the last two as the Pats won by 47.
Scoring 18 points each were Peyton Lewis, Brad Bennett and Dakota Dailey. Adding eight apiece were Devonte Smith and Antonio Love.
Recognized on ‘Senior Night’ were Lewis, Bennett, Randy Love, Antonio Love, Vince Hoyt and Tristan Person.
“This is a big senior group that has been a part of a lot of success,” Coach Dailey said. “I caught myself trying to not think about the ‘final horn’ with this group. I will miss them as players and young men.”
MA versus Indianola
Marshall squads made the long trek to the Delta Friday night and swept district foe Indianola Academy.
The Lady Patriots, with potent offense and smothering defense, surged ahead 24-9 at the halfway point and held on to win, 36-30.
Indianola was held to just three field goals in the first two quarters.
Dailey complimented the work of his starters – Skelton, Martin, Kat Moore, Kara Novarese and Watkins – and said Hailey McMinn and Hayleigh Mason came in and “gave us some huge minutes as we weathered foul trouble.”
Skelton was the leading point producer with 18. Martin added 13.
The Patriots, as they have been in all their district games, were on cruise control and won 68-48.
MA led by 11 at the half and outscored the Colonels by 11 in the third.
“With the success we have had, especially in district this year and even over the years, these games become ‘ho hum’ sometimes and this game was like that,” Dailey said. “But at the end of the day, Indianola has some good players, too, and we got their best game.”
Hitting for double digits were Dailey with 19 and Randy Love and Lewis with 12 each.
The Marshall Academy boys stepped into one of the biggest public school arenas Saturday when they participated in the prestigious Hotbed Classic at New Albany High School.
“It was like a ‘basketball pilgrimage’ – so many memories,” said Dailey, a product of Northeast Mississippi. “I got going in pre-game and couldn’t stop telling stories. I thought it was important to honor the basketball history of that place.”
His Patriots, in turn, put on a show. They crushed the East Union Urchins 82-48.
“A basketball ‘lifer,’ as he called himself, asked me on the way out, ‘Do y’all shoot like that all the time?’ I said if you let us, we will,” Dailey said. “It was so neat to see gentlemen like this. You could see the love for the game and the history of Northeast Mississippi basketball in his eyes. For a fellow basketball ‘lifer,’ it was special.”
Bennett was on fire. He scored 26. Dailey and Lewis had 16 each and Smith eight.
The Pats, a bit slow getting started after six hours on the bus the night before, outscored the Urchins 24-7 in the second quarter to take control at 38-18.
MA teams visited Madison Ridgeland Academy Tuesday. They end the regular season next Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Center Hill.
Marshall junior high squads play in the District 1-AA Tournament this week at North Delta (Batesville).
“My junior high teams have had some huge wins and they’re looking to make big runs in the tournament,” Dailey said.
Both are number three seeds and will play in the semi-finals Thursday – the boys versus Kirk and the girls versus North Delta.
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