NEW HOPE — Deciding who played the role of go-to player for the Noxubee County High School boys basketball team on Wednesday depended on which quarter you were watching.
There was none during a weak first quarter, when the Tigers fell behind 11-4 before righting the ship. Then it was senior center Demone Cunningham, using his 6-foot-4, 275-pound frame well to score 7 of the Tigers’ 13 second-quarter points. After halftime, it was senior guard Jay Colvin, who scored all of his 13 points during the second half.
Add it all up and you have a 49-43 win for Noxubee County over a smart, scrappy Heritage Academy team in the Trojan Holiday Classic at New Hope High School
For Tigers coach Danny Crawford, the reason for the slow start was obvious.
“This is our third game in three days, so we have some fatigue,” said Crawford, whose team defeated Alcorn Central on Monday and Neshoba Central on Tuesday. “We played a tough game last night against Neshoba Central, then we show up today and had a 1 o’clock game.
“Take nothing away from Heritage Academy. They’re a really good basketball team, they can shoot the ball, and they have this little guard, number 10 (sophomore Whit Altmyer). I’m very impressed with his game.”
Colvin was the only scorer in double figures for the balanced Tigers, as Cunningham and Kamario Taylor each scored 9 points and Darrell Brooks added 8.
The Tigers left some points at the line, hitting only 9 of 21 free throws, including 0 for 6 during a third quarter in which they otherwise almost took control of the game. Ahead by a point 2 minutes into the period, the Tigers’ shots started falling, with Colvin scoring 8 points during a 10-0 run that gave Noxubee County a 37-26 lead.
“Second half we did come out very aggressive, but then we got fatigue all over again and laid back down,” Crawford said. “And then they just made a good run.”
That they did, as the Patriots scored the last 8 points of the quarter behind juniors Trey Naugher and Mack Howard, then drew back into a tie with 6:24 remaining on a 3-pointer from Collin Adair.
But the Tigers never surrendered the lead, and while the Patriots pulled within 42-41 and 44-43, the Tigers scored the final 5 points of the game to clinch the win.
Crawford clearly felt his team should not have been in a close game down the stretch. One the one hand, he thought his players didn’t have enough respect for their opponent. On the other, he certainly did.
“Kids tend to overlook their opponent, and I think that has a lot to do with our performance today,” Crawford said. “Heritage Academy, I was very impressed with them. They played hard, they run a great offense, they set good screens, and I’m very impressed with number 10. I’d love to have him at Noxubee.”
Naugher finished with 14 points to lead Heritage, hitting 6 of his 7 free throws during a game when the teams combined to miss 21 of 42. Sophomore forward Jack Ketchum was also in double figures with 10 points.
Crawford couldn’t single out any of his players for their performance against the Patriots.
“It was the whole team just for grinding it out and coming out with a win,” he said. “We were just tired, but we still played well enough to win.”
West Lowndes 61. Central Hinds 51: Jamarveion Seals scored 27 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead the Panthers in the Columbus Christian Academy Christmas Tournament.
DeCamby Willis scored 6 of his 12 points during the fourth quarter, when West Lowndes pulled away after leading 47-44 after three and 32-31 at halftime.
It was the third consecutive victory in the event for the Panthers, who defeated Amory Christian on Monday and Oak Hill on Tuesday.
Oak Hill 64, Amory Christian 42: Collins Trolio scored 9 of his game-high 22 points during the second quarter, when the Raiders outscored the Lions 27-13.
Cameron Dill scored 16 points for the Raiders, while John Ross Craven totaled 12 and Conner Freeman added 11.
The Lions did not attempt a free throw during the game, while the Raiders connected on 11 of 19 from the line, including 5 of 7 by Freeman.
Winona Christian 57, Columbus Christian 47: Joe Edwards scored 18 points and Jackson Howard added 12, but the Rams lost in the final game of their three-day Christmas tournament.
The Rams had won their first two games in the event, defeating Winston and J.Z. George, but shot just 6 of 21 from the line in their loss to the Stars.
Jacob Minga added 8 points for CCA.
Columbus 47, Olive Branch 41: The Falcons improved to 11-3 by handing the Conquistadors a setback in the Trojan Holiday Classic.
Olive Branch fell to 13-3.
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