February 27, 2014
for Holly High
It was a night of celebration Friday at Independence as both Holly Springs High School basketball teams earned District 2-3A Tournament championships.
The Lady Hawks, who won their first district crown since 1992, opened the championship contest with a spread offense, keeping the ball beyond the arc in a slow 3-2 format. It proved to be effective because the host team, the Lady Kats of Independence, were chasing the ball and leaving the corners open. Holly High followed Jasmine Jones to an 18-8 lead at the end of one.
The pace was about the same in the second period but the Lady Hawks were trapping the ball well and maintaining a consistent double-digit lead. The Lady Kats were having most of their success at the charity stripe but it was not making a crucial difference. Holly High was still ahead 37-23 at intermission.
The Lady Hawks quickened the tempo of the game in the third frame and steadily increased their margin. The opponents even went cold at the line, missing five, consecutively. Meanwhile the Lady Hawks left the floor with a 57-28 tally.
In the final period, it was no longer a contest, just a matter of crowning new queens of 2-3A. LaKendra Bell and Kenyada Burns were still performing yeomen’s service with Jones and Starlandria Walton pitching in, too. When the horn sounded for the last and final time it was 66-42 with the Lady Hawks picking up the district hardware for the first time in 22 years.
Bell and Walton led the offense with 15 points each. Jones and Burns added 13 and 12, respectively. Brandi Woodson, a force on the inside, had 10 rebounds and nine blocks. Burns also had six steals and six assists.
The Lady Hawks (15-11) hosted a first round North Half game Monday versus Alcorn Central.
Hawks get district title
These teams, the Hawks and North Panola, had met twice during the season and had split the games. There was plenty of action from the tip but very little scoring. It was still in single digits at the end of the frame with Holly High on top 8-7.
The Cougars began to growl a little in the second quarter, exploiting a smaller Hawks’ lineup. They ran up a double-digit lead before Holly High started to use stronger tactics. They reduced the Cougars’ margin to five at the break (27-22).
The third period was high spirited on both sides. Holly High kept inching closer and was on the verge of taking the lead a couple of times. Ball control was a minor factor and Panola was four points ahead at the end (40-36).
Kylan Freeman had entered the fray late in the third and launched a couple of treys, one in the third and another in the fourth. The second drew the Hawks even at 40. He next went to the line and hit one of two to put the Hawks ahead by one point.
“We stayed competitive and defense sparked our rally,” coach Sylvester Kilgore said.
For the remainder of the game it was Holly High trying to hang on to a slim lead, four points or less, with the Cougars breathing heavily at their heels. With adroit ball handling and a little freebie help, the Hawks won the title 57-51.
Freeman led the champs with 12 points. DeAndre Finley scored 10 and had six assists. Tyler Brown and Marvin Burt scored nine each. DaVonte Smith had eight points and eight rebounds.
Holly High (17-9) was scheduled to host a North Half game versus Kossuth on Tuesday of this week.
With wins, the Lady Hawks and Hawks will move on to North Tournament action Thursday through Friday at sites to be determined.
“We’re blessed to be in this position,” Kilgore said. “It’s real exciting for both teams.”
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