Photo by DeMill Dixon
Cori Bell puts up a shot versus Crystal Springs. To his right is teammate Cornelious Bridgeforth.
Daveon Miller releases a shot in the lane versus the Tigers.
Photos by DeMill Dixon
DaQuan Smith (12) flies to the hoop in a home playoff game versus Booneville on Tuesday of last week.
Anthony Johnson runs the offense in the state quarter-finals.
Wow, what a game!
Holly Springs just wouldn’t go away. And that true grit was rewarded.
“We fought until the end to pull out an epic victory over the number-one-ranked team in 3A,” said head coach Sylvester Kilgore.
In double overtime, the Hawks stunned Crystal Springs 80-75 Saturday afternoon at Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
They trailed by four late in the fourth quarter, by five in the first overtime and by two to start the second OT, but kept battling and found a way to win.
“It was a total team effort, along with some divine intervention,” Kilgore said. “We had guys step up and make some big plays to keep us in the game.”
Holly High, 22-9 and ranked third in the state by MaxPreps, will next face Ruleville Central Wednesday at 1:30 in the semis. With a win, the title game will be Saturday, March 10, at 3 p.m. versus either St. Andrew’s Episcopal or Tylertown.
DaQuan Smith hit three straight buckets to open the quarter-final contest and give the Hawks an early 6-5 lead over Crystal Springs.
But they trailed 12-10 after the first quarter.
Midway through the second, Daveon Miller cashed in back-to-back shots to put Holly High up 18-16.
Smith scored just before the first-half horn, and the Hawks were up 27-23 at intermission.
Holly High led by as many as six points in the third. The Tigers cut it to one in the last minute but Smith dunked to close the period and put his team up 40-37.
The fourth was a roller coaster. Holly Springs went up by six at the 6:32 mark but trailed by four (59-55) with 39 seconds left.
Smith cut it to two, and then Cori Bell forced a turnover. Bell followed that with a successful drive to the goal to tie the game at 59 and send it to overtime.
With 1:11 to go in the first OT, the Hawks trailed 68-63.
“I had faith in our team,” Kilgore said. “I had to be there for them when it looked bleak. I told them, ‘It’s not over. Stay focused and take advantage of the opportunity presented.’”
Smith stole the ball with 50 seconds remaining and drilled a long three, cutting the deficit to 68-66.
That score was still on the board with 17 seconds left and Crystal Springs in possession of the basketball.
Smith struck again. He got a steal off full-court pressure and turned it into points to knot the game at 68 and send it to a second overtime.
Rahmon Rutherford then entered and provided the spark for Holly High. He scored all 10 of his points in the second OT, including a three, some huge free throws and the final basket of the game with 10 seconds left to seal the five-point win.
“We got a major boost in the second overtime from our sixth man extraordinaire, Rahmon Rutherford,” Kilgore said.
And the coach was also quick to praise others who stepped up big-time in the huge victory.
“We got a career high in points from our double-double machine Daveon Miller, plus a stout defensive presence as well from him and Anthony Johnson,” Kilgore said. “And lastly, what can you say about the dynamic duo of Cori Bell and DaQuan Smith, who set the tone in this epic battle.”
Smith, a Dandy Dozen player and Murray State signee, finished with 26 points and nine rebounds. Bell had 21 points. Miller scored 17 and pulled down 11 rebounds.
“Thanks to Hawk nation for not giving up and hanging with their team and willing us to the finish,” he said.
The home gym was rocking in the second round of the playoffs as the Hawks bombed Booneville 79-50.
The Blue Devils tried to slow the pace versus Holly High but the Hawks’ pressure defense turned into points and more points.
“It was a great team win,” Kilgore said. “Our defensive execution got us off to an excellent start. Our quick and efficent scoring off our defense kept us running at full throttle. And our rebounding on both ends made it difficult for our opponent.”
Bell’s shot from the corner put Holly Springs on top 20-6 after one quarter.
The lead ballooned to 21 points (31-10) when Rutherford hit a three at the 4:12 mark of the second quarter.
Smith drove to the hoop for two to close the first half. It was 37-13.
Cornelius Bridgeforth opened the third with a bucket, off an assist from Miller, and the rout was on. The Hawks went on to win by 29.
Smith was the leading performer with 28 points and seven rebounds. Bell had 20 points and four steals. Bridgeforth contributed 12 points and eight rebounds.