Thursday, January 2, 2014
Byhalia splits with Ripley
By BARRY BURLESON
Byhalia basketball fans were treated to a pair of intense District 2-4A clashes prior to the Christmas break.
The Indians and Lady Indians welcomed Ripley Friday, Dec. 20, and split with the visitors to move their district marks to 2-1 and 1-2, respectively.
Coach James Sales’ Byhalia boys used a strong second-half surge to defeat the Tigers 80-66.
The Indians began the contest with tons of energy. They went up by five early and maintained that advantage until the end of the first quarter (18-13).
Then the Tigers used back-to-back threes to snatch the lead in the second period. They led by as many as six and took a 36-32 advantage to the locker room at the break.
In the third, Byhalia found momentum from one of its own three-point shooters. Antonio Wilson drilled three consecutive long-range shots and at the 3:32 mark of the quarter, the Indians were back in front at 48-45.
They kept the lead the rest of the way. Avion Graham had a couple of key buckets in the fourth, plus a pair of assists as Byhalia went on to win by 14.
Wilson and Graham were the top scorers with 17 each. Keondric Harris had 11, while Charlie Rogers and Kendrick Parker added nine each, and Dandrick Fifer scored eight.
The Indians improved their overall mark to 9-2 before playing in the O-Town Showdown January 2-4 at Oxford High School.
The Lady Indians got off to a slow start versus Ripley December 20 at home and almost battled back in the end – losing 47-44.
Coach Reginald Jones’ squad did not get its first basket until the 4:50 mark of the first quarter and trailed 5-2.
Byhalia was down 14-8 after one quarter.
Ripley pulled in front by 11 midway through the second quarter but then Byhalia mounted a run, largely due to its pressure defense.
At the half, the Lady Indians had cut the deficit to six, 21-15.
The third quarter followed a similar pattern – Ripley moving ahead by 11 and then Byhalia cutting it to five on back-to-back steals and lay-ups from Shandricka Sessom.
At the end of three, the home squad trailed by only four (33-29).
The fourth quarter was a doozy – with both teams dueling hard for the district victory.
Sessom kept the Lady Indians close but they could never get over the hump. A last second three try at the buzzer missed the mark and they fell by three.
Sessom, a senior who has signed with Ole Miss, scored 28 points. Eighth-grader Shay Johnson added eight.
The Byhalia girls (5-6) played in the Dragon Fire Invitational at Collierville (Tenn.) last week.
The Byhalia Indians will face KIPP Academy (Memphis, Tenn.) at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 2, in the first round of the O-Town Tournament at Oxford. With a win, they play Friday at 6:30; with a loss, they play Friday at 3:30. The three-day event wraps up Saturday with consolation games (starting at 3 p.m.) and the championship at 7:30 p.m.
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