Photo by Willie Ann Shelton
Wrapping up a Falcon are Ladarius Stinson (left) and Cori Bell (right). In back is Kendrick Fountain.
Photos by Willie Ann Shelton
DaQuan Smith (12) gets past a couple of Falcons on his route to the goal.
Cori Bell makes his move and gets a Falcon airborne.
Taking shots are Kendrick Fountain (left) and Daveon Miller (right).
Ladarius Stinson (33) battles a Falcon for a rebound.
Hawks exit in 3A final four
The Holly Springs Hawks struggled to slow down the high-flying Velma Jackson Falcons Wednesday of last week in the Class 3A State Tournament semi-finals.
The Hawks found themselves in a quick deficit and couldn’t recover. The Falcons, who had also eliminated Holly High in 2015, soared to a 67-43 victory.
“We got off to a rough story by not executing high-percentage field goals, and as a result Velma Jackson took advantage, forcing us to play behind the entire game,” coach Sylvester Kilgore said. “They doubled us up in scoring the first half.”
The Falcons opened the semi-final action at Mississippi Coliseum with a 7-0 lead. At the end of the first, the Falcons held a 19-7 advantage.
The second frame didn’t favor the Hawks either. Velma Jackson outscored Holly High 19-10 to take a commanding 38-17 lead at intermission.
“The defense they used kept our leading scorer (DaQuan Smith) to zero points in the first half (and a season-low seven for the game),” Kilgore said.
The Hawks showed some grit in the third. The point difference in the period was 21 for the Falcons and 18 for Holly High. However, the Falcons were still in command, 59-35, as the third expired.
Each team added eight more points in the fourth. Velma Jackson advanced to the state championship contest with a 24-point win.
“We had an excellent third quarter and held our own in the fourth, but the damage was done by Velma Jackson’s production in the first half,” Kilgore said.
Top performers for Holly High in the loss were Kendrick Fountain with 12 points, four rebounds, six assists, one block and two steals; and Juwoyn Lyles with 10 points, three rebounds, one block and one steal.
For Velma Jackson, Nikolas Weatherspoon scored 26 points, plus the Mississippi State signee had nine rebounds, five assists, two blocks and four steals. His brother, Brandon Weatherspoon, had 22 points with four rebounds, one assist and two steals. Kiryne Jobe pulled down eight rebounds and scored eight points.
“All credit to Coach Carlyle and his Velma Jackson team,” Kilgore said. “They are the epitome of a championship team.”
The Falcons went on to beat East Side 46-32 Saturday at the “Big House” and claim their fourth state title in five years.
Coach Kilgore praised his Hawks, who finished with a 21-11 record, for their outstanding season.
Of the team’s 11 losses, seven were to state tournament participants.
“We had multiple five-game win streaks and an eight-game win streak late in the season,” he said.
The Hawks won the district regular season championship for the fourth straight year. Five players were named first team all-district and four to the all-district tournament team.
Fountain has signed with Itawamba Community College. He said Lyles has an offer from Rust College.
Smith, the district’s Most Valuable Player, will play in the North-South All-Star Game later this month. He has recorded more than 1,700 points. The junior is ranked as one of the top five guard prospects in the state going into next season.
Coach Kilgore was named district Coach of the Year for the fourth straight season.
“We played one of the most competitive schedules in the state this season, and we only lose two seniors (Fountain and Lyles),” he said. “I would like to congratulate the team on an exciting season, as we look forward to our opportunities next season which will include another quest for the state championship.”
He thanked the City of Holly Springs, the Holly Springs School District, Hawk Nation, plus the local media, for their support this season.