Photo by Barry Burleson
Kavacia Johnson (21) eyes the goal and scores two of her 17 points versus Olive Branch.
Photos by Barry Burleson
Antwon Porter (10) goes to the floor trying to gain possession of the basketball versus Olive Branch last week.
Ariel Tunstall (10) tries to get a past a Lady Conquistador in recent court action.
Jerrell Brounson (left) makes his move toward the goal.
Byhalia drops two in ‘tough atmosphere’
Byhalia teams wandered a few miles west into a “tough atmosphere” Tuesday of last week and came up on the short end of the scoreboard versus Olive Branch.
“They defend their home court well,” said James Sales, head coach of the Indians. “We haven’t had much success there. It’s a tough place to win. We normally play them well at our place, and then they defend their home court well.”
The Byhalia boys stayed close the first half but went on to drop a 75-59 decision to the Conquistadors.
“I was pleased with the way we played the first half, but in the second half, we didn’t play,” Sales said. “We forgot all we had practiced and worked on.”
The Indians trailed 8-0 early but Avion Graham broke the ice with a three at the 6:00 mark of the first. Two minutes later Corey Hardin dunked for Byhalia. Graham drove to the hoop to end the quarter and gave his team its first lead at 13-12.
Graham provided a lot of the spark and the points in the second quarter, too. Byhalia fell behind by as many as seven. Then Jerrell Brounson’s drive to the hoop cut the Indians’ deficit to 30-28 at intermission.
Olive Branch started the third with a three and a couple minutes later led by 11 points, 41-30. The Conquistadors were up 56-43 at the end of the quarter.
The Indians could get only as close as nine in the fourth on Jamaris Briggs’ nice move to the hoop for two points.
Graham finished with 24 points, while Briggs contributed 13, and Antwon Porter scored 11.
For Olive Branch, D.J. Jeffries had 25.
The Indians finished the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule with a 7-3 record.
“We should be 9-1, but I will take it with this group,” Sales said. “We only have two seniors with experience in this type game. Our younger guys are getting tougher, and as the season continues to progress, they will be ready to go in the tough games.”
The Lady Indians put up a strong fight against the unbeaten Olive Branch girls and lost 72-61.
“The girls played hard,” coach Jeffrey Williams said. “We just had too many turnovers. We have some things we need to work on.”
Defense dominated in the early going.
Byhalia’s Tiyanna Powell got the first bucket of the game with 5:58 on the first-quarter clock. Kavacia Johnson followed with a three.
The game was tied at 8 with 3:55 left in the opening period, and Byhalia was down 18-16 at the horn.
It stayed tight in the second quarter. Johnson’s bucket tied the score at 23 with 3:38 left until the half. But Olive Branch’s star player, Myah Taylor, answered and the home team was up 33-28 at the break.
The Lady Conquistadors snatched the momentum to start the third and went up by as many as nine. Johnson’s assist to Powell gave Byhalia some spark, and the Lady Indians cut their deficit to three at the 3:34 mark. But Taylor again stepped up her game. Her three-point play (two-point basket and free throw) gave Olive Branch a 58-43 advantage after three periods.
Byhalia got as close as seven in the fourth before losing by 11.
Powell poured in 24 points, 24 of those coming in the second half. Johnson added 17, 14 of those in the first half. She fouled out with 5:21 to go in the game. Leekadra Smith scored 12.
Taylor was the top gun for Olive Branch with 20 points.
The Byhalia boys will play in the Peggy Bain Holiday Hoops Tournament at Alcorn Central December 27-28. Then both the Indians and Lady Indians will visit rival Holly Springs on Tuesday night, Jan. 3.