January 9, 2014
The first-ever meeting on the hardwood between Byhalia and Marshall Academy stayed close for two and a half quarters.
That’s when the Indians used full-court pressure defense to create turnovers and get their running game going. The result was a 73-44 win for Byhalia on day three of the O-Town Showdown at Oxford High School. The Indians finished fifth in the three-day event and the Patriots sixth.
“We were looking to speed up the tempo,” coach James Sales said about his Indians’ surge in the third quarter Saturday. “We knew they couldn’t run with us.
“We really played well in the second half. It was one of our better halves of basketball this season.”
The Class 4A public school Indians improved to 11-3, while the Class A private school Patriots dropped to 9-6.
“We played them well for a half and then the wheel fell off,” said Craig Dailey, head coach of the Patriots. “They are by far the fastest and quickest team we have faced. Their speed was relentless and we wore down and let it become a track meet in the second half and they whipped us.
“Byhalia has a great group of young men. They handled themselves with class. They’re well-coached and they were a pleasure to play.”
Zach Mahan scored eight of Marshall’s 10 points in the first quarter as the Patriots moved ahead 10-6.
Malik Steel gave the Indians a big lift in the second period. His lay-up and free throw presented Byhalia its first lead at 13-12.
Steel scored 11 in the quarter as Byhalia went up by as many as six.
“Malik (Steel) was a game-changer,” Coach Sales said. “He was taking it to the basket and definitely gave us some spark.”
MA’s Christian Compton nailed a three in the last minute of the first half. MA was down 27-25 at intermission.
The Pats actually took a brief lead on Johnny Crnogorac’s basket at the 6:33 mark of the third.
Two minutes later the full-court pressing, fast-breaking Indians were up 37-29 and they kept turning up the heat.
“We went to the 2-2-1 press and it was effective,” Coach Sales said.
Steel converted a three-point play to put Byhalia on top 49-38 at the end of the third.
The Indians outscored the Patriots 24-6 in the fourth and won by 29 points.
Steel was the top gun for Byhalia with 18. Antonio Wilson and Charlie Rogers tossed in 13 and 10, respectively. Avion Graham and Kendrick Parker scored eight each.
For Marshall, Christian Compton had 13, Dakota Dailey nine and Mahan eight.
Coach Sales praised Rogers’ defense on Dailey.
“Charlie (Rogers) did a great job on their best player,” he said.
Coach Dailey said two holiday tournaments, the O-Town Showdown and the Brookhaven Academy Invitational, challenged his Patriots.
“The O-Town Showdown, on top of the five days in Brookhaven, was a lot to undertake,” he said. “It was a gauntlet. The problem with this group is we haven’t been to war together. They haven’t felt the fire. Well, they got a crash course these last two weeks.
“My explanation to them is that it will be like running a marathon with leg weights on when we make it back to MAIS (Mississippi Association of Independent Schools) competition this week.”
The Patriots went to Tunica Tuesday. They host Magnolia Heights Thursday, go to Marvell Friday and then host Oak Hill Monday, Jan. 13.
The Indians visited Potts Camp Tuesday. They go to Senatobia next Tuesday, Jan. 14.
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