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Columbus sweeps New Hope in basketball doubleheader


New Hope High School’s Tyler Stevenson calls for a timeout in the third quarter  Saturday night as Columbus High’s Robert Woodard II and Casey Smith trap him.

New Hope High School’s Tyler Stevenson calls for a timeout in the third quarter Saturday night as Columbus High’s Robert Woodard II and Casey Smith trap him. Photo by: David Miller/Special to The Dispatch


By David Miller, Special to The Dispatch



Admiral Ackbar should have warned the New Hope High School boys basketball team what was coming against the Columbus High Falcons on Saturday night. 


After a stagnant first half of bricked jumpers and lost handles in a mostly half-court game, the Trojans were greeted with a press and half-court traps on nearly every possession of the third quarter. 


The result was a 20-6 third-quarter run highlighted by seven steals, five dunks, and a trio of 3-pointers from Greg King and RJ DeLoach that helped Columbus cruise to a 48-27 win. 


"At halftime, coach (Anthony Carlyle) said we were playing dead," said DeLoach, who had eight points. "So, as the starting five, we got together and decided that we were going to come up and bring that energy. It gave us the momentum to run off with it." 


Strangely, New Hope opened the third quarter with a splash play -- an alley-oop dunk from Kyree Fields to Tyler Stevenson. Then, King hit back-to-back 3-pointers after Columbus forced two turnovers. The Falcons (12-6) led 28-19 after DeLoach scored on an inbounds play before the Falcons closed the period on a 10-0 run powered by breakaway dunks by Robert Woodard II, who had a game-high 14 points, and Denijay Harris (eight). 


"That's what we have to do in order to be effective -- get easy baskets and play with great energy," Carlyle said. "When we started playing that way, then those shots began to fall. In the first half, I thought we were stagnant. We got some good looks but weren't able to knock them down." 


Carlyle said he opted to save the press and trap for the second half so New Hope (10-5) wouldn't have halftime to adjust to it. 


"Sometimes, kids, even though you make the adjustment off a timeout, don't execute because they don't have halftime to settle down," Carlyle said, "so that's why we saved it." 


New Hope coach Drew McBrayer said he expected Columbus to press and trap at some point, but he said poor decision-making and ballhandling doomed any chances of running their offense. 


"Columbus started the game with it last time, so we were expecting it," McBrayer said. "We weren't getting in the positions we needed to, and we were picking up the ball in bad spots. We worked on it, but their length caused us some problems. They hit a couple of threes coming out of the third quarter and changed the momentum of the game." 


Carlyle has been keen to see his guards deliver a balanced performance, and he said they delivered Saturday. King and DeLoach combined for 14 points and three 3-pointers, and they held New Hope's starting backcourt of RL Mattix and Tyrece Jackson to three points. 


"That's what we've been stressing -- we have to have consistently good guard play every night we play," Carlyle said. "I think we've gotten it in spots this season. I love guards -- even before I got here, all of my teams were guard-oriented. We're trying to build their confidence to step it up, and if they do we have a chance to be a solid team come playoffs." 




n Columbus 42, New Hope 30: Columbus needed every bit of Hannah White on Saturday night. 


The Lady Falcons' all-star was one of only four Columbus players to score against the Lady Trojans, including seven of the team's eight points in the second quarter. 


White scored a game-high 21 points and went 11 of 18 from the free throw line in Columbus' victory. 


"It was huge," said assistant coach Priscilla White, who filled in for head coach Yvonne Hairston, who missed the match due to a death in the family. "Hannah is going to play 'Hanna ball.' She's probably one of the best players in the state, and she made Mississippi North and South All-Star, so she's going to be Hannah." 


Columbus (11-5) raced out to a 15-3 lead entering the second quarter after blending zone and press defense and forcing turnovers on New Hope's first seven possessions. Columbus also corralled six offensive rebounds in the quarter. 


"We've been struggling offensively the last few weeks -- not making open shots, not making shots against that zone defense -- and that's what hurt us in the first quarter," New Hope coach Chad Brown said. "We weren't attacking like we should have, but you have to be able to make open shots." 


White closed the first half with an and-one and gave Columbus a 23-12 lead, but New Hope clawed back to within six in the third after an Alex Melton 3-pointer and a putback by Juquala Sherrod. 


White's ability to get to the hope saw New Hope point guard Alaysha Jennings and forward Julia Franks each reached their fourth foul by the fourth quarter. 


"We tried to make (White) make shots from the outside -- I don't think they hit that many -- against our zone," Brown said. "But we had to go man there at the end of the third quarter since we were down and our point guard and best defender got in foul trouble." 


Jennings led New Hope (8-8) with seven points. Deryona Smith had nine for Columbus.



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