January 9, 2014
Byhalia struggled to get on track in its first game back from the holiday break.
The Indians were stunned by KIPP Collegiate High School (of Memphis, Tenn.) in the first round of the O-Town Showdown before bouncing back strongly to knock off Lafayette Friday.
“We were sluggish – just going through the motions,” coach James Sales said about a 55-51 loss to the Phoenix Thursday evening at Oxford High School.
Byhalia maintained a lead the bulk of the first half.
Charlie Rogers, who finished with a team best 12 points, scored on a jump shot late in the first quarter to put the Indians on top 16-13.
His bucket off a steal made it 19-13 at the 7:08 mark of the second period.
Then Rogers scored, was fouled and hit a free throw to push the lead to eight with just 52 seconds remaining until the intermission.
The lead was 35-27 at the half, thanks to Avion Graham’s putback at the buzzer.
The third quarter was a nightmare for the Indians. They scored just four points in the eight minutes and fell behind 43-39.
They were down by as many as nine in the fourth but almost rallied. Kendrick Parker’s three from the corner cut the deficit to 53-51 with 27 seconds left.
But Byhalia couldn’t get any closer and fell by four.
Others scoring in double digits for the Indians were Antonio Wilson with 11 and Malik Steel with 10.
“We can’t always think that we can get down and come back,” Coach Sales said. “We almost did, but it taught us a valuable lesson. We have to pay attention to detail – the small things.
“Our sluggish play came back to haunt us. I think the loss got their attention.”
Indeed it did, as the Indians improved to 10-3 on the season Friday with a 72-59 win over Lafayette, which is a District 2-4A foe.
“We played better,” Coach Sales said. “I can’t wait until school starts and we get back in our normal routine.
“Lafayette is one of the teams we have to face in our district and we wanted to set a tone. It was a good win.”
Graham traveled the length of the floor and scored to push Byhalia’s lead to 16-6 with 1:29 to go in the first quarter.
Lafayette cut it to eight points (18-10) at the end of the period.
The Indians maintained a narrow lead in the second quarter and carried a 29-24 advantage to the break.
Dandrick Fifer provided some spark early in the third with a dunk.
Byhalia went up by 10, watched Lafayette cut it to three and then took a 45-35 lead on Wilson’s three late in the third.
Wilson then pretty much sealed the deal at the 7:17 mark of the fourth when he made a steal and went the length of the floor for a slam. Byhalia was in control at 53-40 and coasted to the win.
Parker led the way with 17, while Wilson added 14 and Rogers 10. Steel and Graham scored eight each.
The Indians next faced Marshall Academy in a battle for fifth place in the tournament on Saturday (see separate story).
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