January 8, 2013 10:49:13 PM
Scott Walters - [email protected]
Columbus High School basketball player Roshad Meeks would make a great party planner.
Meeks has that tendency to make sure all the little details are worked out. The talented senior did just that on the football field as the Falcons returned to the Class 6A playoffs earlier this year. Now, he is taking that same attention to detail to the basketball court where the Falcons are also turning the corner and eyeing the postseason.
Battling back from a 2-3 start, the Falcons won for the eighth time in their last 10 games with a 42-32 Class 6A, Region 2 win over Grenada Tuesday night at the Falcon Nest.
"Coach (Sammy) Smith always tells us that each of us has a job on the team and that each of us needs to do our job for the team to win," Meeks said. "I just try to do what is asked of me. I will be the trash man if that is what they need me to do. I don't mind hitting the floor. I don't mind going for that extra rebound. That is one of the reasons why we have been successful."
The Falcons have taken flight in large part to the emergence of Devin Berry and a dominating inside game. Berry notched his third straight double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Grenada (7-8, 1-1) did not have the height to contend underneath. Berry imposed his will quickly, scoring on each of the game's first two possessions. On the defensive end, Berry put the lane on lockdown with back-to-back blocked shots on the game's third possession.
Even though Columbus only held a 9-6 lead after one quarter, the theme of the contest was established. Sophomore J.J. Swanigan gave Berry a breather to start the second quarter and took matters into his own hands.
"If we can get J.J. back to playing the way he did to end his ninth grade year then people better look out," Smith said. "In the second quarter, we saw that type of performance he was giving us night in and night out at the end of last season. He has really turned the corner here of late and we need him to keep heading in that right direction."
Swanigan scored all nine of his points in the second quarter. Other than a D.D. Walker 3-point basket, Swanigan was all of the offense in the second quarter. The Falcons even played both big men at the same time and even though a few turnovers took place, the Chargers wanted no part of the dominating physical play inside.
"Coach has really been challenging me to step it up," Swanigan said. "I saw what Duke (Berry) was doing out there and I wanted to follow that lead. Even though we didn't put up a lot of points, they had a hard time matching up when we were both doing our thing at the same time."
Columbus (10-5, 2-1) quickly stretched its seven-point halftime lead to a 32-15 advantage with 1:25 left in the third quarter. In a reversal of fortune, the Falcons were in complete control. Grenada had won the previous meeting, 56-51, on Nov. 30 in Grenada.
"We came into this game with a big chip on our shoulders," Meeks said. "We knew they didn't see our best the first time around. This was a really big region game and we had to play better. The key on this team is communicating. We talk a lot and work well with one another on the defensive end.
"This team takes coaching on the both the offensive and defensive ends. There was not a major difference from the first game, other than we communicated. We did what we do well consistently for four quarters."
Grenada did find some success with full-court pressure to start the fourth quarter. The Chargers pieced together 12 straight points and only trailed 32-27 when Smith took timeout with 5:41 left.
Columbus then did what it does best. On the next possession, Berry went inside and nailed a four-footer, while drawing a foul. The free throw was missed but Meeks got the rebound and was fouled on a putback attempt. Meeks split his two free throws and the lead was 35-27.
One possession later, Brandon Porter scored and also earned a 3-point attempt. Again, the free throw was missed but Berry rammed the putback through the basket to complete a four-point possession.
"We are making the plays right now when the game hangs in the balance," Smith said. "We are not where we want to be. However, we are trending upward. We are certainly pointing in the right direction. It is exciting to watch this team grow and develop."
Trey Spencer led Grenada with nine points.
In the opener, the Columbus girls moved to 3-0 in region play with a 66-25 victory.
The Lady Falcons quickly built a 21-2 lead and were never in danger.
In the opening half, Kiki Patterson scored 13 points and Daisha Williams added 12 points, including three 3-point baskets. The early offense would be enough for Columbus (9-5, 3-0), which led 38-12 at halftime.
Patterson finished with 16 points, while Williams added 14 points and Jeralyn Hayes added 11 points.
Both Columbus teams resume region play at South Panola Friday.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter