January 30, 2013 2:15:40 AM
MACON -- A clean sweep for Columbus High School was the result of two tightly contested prep basketball games against Noxubee County Tuesday night.
In the nightcap, Columbus continued its recent strong play of late with a hard-fought 42-30 win over Noxubee County.
While the Falcons (13-7) struggled on offense, they excelled on defense.
"We had a poor shooting night, but a win is a win is a win," Coach Sammy Smith said. "You have to get them anyway you can."
As Columbus has taken flight this season, it has done so in large part to the big presence of 6-foot-7 senior Devin Berry.
The big man came up with eight big points in the first 16 minutes to finish the game with that same total. Playing next to Berry was junior Jason Davis, who only stands 5-11, but plays as big as Berry.
"Those are our big guys. We haven't played them together much this year, but that's what we are going to start doing," Smith said. "I thought at times they did good, they need to get in a little bit better shape, because they have been out for a while."
In the first 16 minutes that plan was put into action, as Columbus took a 25-16 lead into the break, with Berry's eight points down low setting the tone for the game.
Coming out of the locker room, Noxubee (12-9) scored on two layups and a 3-pointer to close the gap. The Tigers would narrow the Falcons lead to just seven going into the final frame.
Late in the fourth quarter, Noxubee's Kendaruis McNeese nailed his second three of the night to leave the Tigers knocking on the door only down 32-27 with two minutes remaining. The sophomore finished the game with eight points, to tie with his teammate Denzel Clemons' eight points on the night.
Clearly, the Tigers had caught wind of the plan to send the ball inside. Noxubee made adjustments and doubled the Columbus big men every time the ball went inside the paint.
"They tried to double up on me, but I got some other help from my big man," Berry said. "Noxubee started closing the paint so I helped my other teammates by being a decoy. I started passing it to other guys and that opened it up for other people."
As the fourth quarter progressed, it was apparent the Tigers were wearing down.
The strength of the Falcons inside players overmatched Noxubee. Every ball falling off of the rim after a miss would belong to Columbus, as their big men locked down the lane and secured the rebounds.
"Me and Jason would go back and forth saying, it's your turn to get it after the other made a basket," Berry said of Davis' nine-point performance. "We are not selfish with the ball; this was just good teamwork."
It was that sharing of the ball that would come up big for the Falcons after the Tigers climbed back to only a five-point deficit. Before the home crowd could sit down after celebrating Clemons' momentum-swinging trey, Davis' turnaround jumper from beneath the charity stripe would shift the momentum back to the Falcons. From that point the Tigers would be heartbroken, as the Falcons closed out the win.
When asked what was going through his mind after nailing the big shot, Davis onlysaid one word. "Hustle."
That word was in Davis' head thanks to Berry, who smiled when asked about Davis' jumper.
"I know he was really excited, I told him he did a great job, but to just get back on the court and play defense." Berry said as the two ran down the court.
If this new plan by Coach Smith continues to grow, these Falcons could be a tough draw to stop inside the paint.
The big night for the Falcons began when Columbus posted a 60-45 win in the girls game..
The Lady Falcons (12-6) got off to a slow start, but still came out ahead going into the break with a 28-16 lead.
"We got out to a bad start and had some of our key players in foul trouble reallyquick," Columbus coach Yvonne Hairston said. "My bench stepped up and played well when we had some of our starters on the bench because of foul trouble."
Senior and Mississippi State commit Kiki Patterson lead all scorers on the night with her 27 points, 16 coming in the second half. Patterson would also impact the game with her defense, as the guard had three blocks protecting the goal with her quickness on transition plays.
"She played big for us, she knew she had to step up with two of our guards sitting on the bench and she showed up."