Photo by Barry BurlesonMichael James (2) of Byers scores on a shot from the corner in the victory over Yazoo County.
Lions pull away in fourth quarter
H.W. Byers shifted into another gear in the fourth quarter of its December 19 game versus Yazoo County.
The Lions, leading by just one going to the final eight minutes, sped their way to a 61-43 win over the Panthers in the Holly Springs Legends Classic.
“I was just trying to get them settled down,” said coach James Sales, whose team trailed 26-23 at halftime. “I felt we were pressing — trying to do too much.”
Yazoo County drilled a three at the 5:54 mark of the third and led by six. The Panthers then tried to slow the pace of the game.
Cedrick Watson sank four straight free throws to close the third, and the Lions were on top 33-32.
The momentum really shifted to start the fourth.
“They (the Panthers) started stalling, and we decided to go man-to-man,” Sales said. “We put pressure on the ball and sped the game up. Our intensity level went up, and we started making a push.”
Michael James hit a short jump shot on a fast break to make it 39-32 with 6:36 left.
Devin Moore’s dunk at the 4:28 mark, which upped the lead to 49-36, was the highlight of the fourth-quarter outburst.
Byers went on to win by 18. “Our defense caused turnovers, and we were able to get good shots at the other end,” Sales said. “Then they had to start playing us man, and it opened up the cutting lanes for us to get to the basket.” Watson was the top gun for the Lions. He scored 19, with 11 coming in the second half. James scored 16 and Moore 12. Byers, which got a late start to its season due to COVID-19 issues, improved to 5-1. “We’ve been in the gym a lot practicing, but it’s hard to make up the time we lost,” Coach Sales said. “We need to play more.”
Byers was scheduled to play in the Peggy Bain Christmas Tournament on Monday and Tuesday of this week at Alcorn Central.
They then visit cross-county rival Potts Camp on Tuesday, Jan. 5.
The Lions are unbeaten (3-0) in District 3-1A play. Their next district contest is Friday, Jan. 8, at Hickory Flat.