Photo by DeMill DixonDerek Fountain (20) releases a jump shot versus the North Panola Cougars Friday night.
When the going got tough Friday night, Cori Bell got going.
The junior guard “stepped up when his team needed him most,” coach Sylvester Kilgore said, as Holly Springs turned back North Panola 59-56 for the Region 2-3A crown.
It’s the Hawks’ fifth district tournament championship in six years under Kilgore.
Bell, named the most valuable player of the tourney held at Water Valley, scored 22 points, including 12 of 17 from the free-throw line.
“It was an outstanding team win, led by Cori Bell,” Kilgore said. “He is a battle-tested veteran. He made some key plays for the team and crucial free throws in crunch time to usher us to victory.”
Derek Fountain had 14 points and nine rebounds, Tyhem Reaves nine points and Deveon Miller eight points and nine rebounds.
“We got some huge makes from Deveon Miller and Derek Fountain, and Shontaveous Harris was a workhorse in the paint,” he said.
The Hawks (19-9) hosted Alcorn Central Tuesday night. With a victory, they host the Aberdeen versus Ruleville Center winner this Saturday at 7 p.m. Next, with a win in that one, would be a state quarterfinal game Tuesday, Feb. 26, at a site to be determined. The final four is in Jackson at Mississippi Coliseum on March 6 and the state title game March 9.
“We look forward to a standing-room-only crowd for these home playoff games in our quest to ‘the ship’ in Jackson,” Kilgore said. “These games are very important - whoever loses, the season is over. We must win our next three in a row to make the state semi-finals, and of course win the semi-final game to compete for the ‘gold ball’ on March 9.”
Coach Kilgore’s team knocked off the host school, Water Valley, 80-68 in the district semi-finals Thursday.
They received a bye in round one after finishing atop the district race in the regular season.
“It was a team effort used to overcome foul trouble and a determined Water Valley squad led by Coach (Jason) Purdy,” Kilgore said.
Double-double machine Miller led the way with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
“And his supporting cast did a good job to secure the victory in an exciting game,” Kilgore said.
Bell added 18 points. Fountain had 16 points and seven rebounds. Reaves scored 13. Ded’drick Faulkner dished out four assists and had four steals.
Holly High outrebounded the Blue Devils 34 to 28.
Named to the all-tournament team for Holly High were Miller, Reaves, Bell and Fountain.