February 26, 2014 12:05:26 PM
ABERDEEN -- Aberdeen High School boys basketball coach Cornelius Gilleylen said he was never nervous as a starter playing basketball for the Amory Panthers.
But Gilleylen did have a mild case of the shakes Tuesday evening when Aberdeen took to the floor in a first-round matchup against Humphreys County in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A North State playoffs.
"Absolutely I was nervous, but I wasn't nervous about losing and I wasn't nervous about our game plan," Gilleylen said. "I knew what they (Humphreys County) had and I knew what we had."
So what concerned Gilleylen?
"What had me nervous was this was my first playoff game as a head coach," Gilleylen said. "That's enough to make any coach nervous, but more so here at Aberdeen where coach Roy Hazzle had established a winning tradition throughout the years, especially in the first round of the playoffs."
Adding to the pressure was the presence of Gilleylen's high school basketball coach, David Easley, who came to lend support.
Much to Gilleylen's relief, Aberdeen's winning tradition continued in a 106-41 blowout that made his former coach proud.
"Cornelius hasn't changed one bit," Easley said. "When he played for me, I'd put him on the other team's best player and said, 'Go get him', and that's what he would do. He coaches the same way, and he's done a fine job in his first year as a head coach, and I'm proud of him."
Gilleylen's nervousness diminished midway through the first quarter thanks to a 25-0 run. Leading 8-7 at the four-minute mark, senior Allen Keaton's 3-pointer was the first of 20 consecutive points that gave the Bulldogs a 28-7 cushion after eight minutes. Six players scored for Aberdeen, including Nick Simms, who hit a 3-pointer, and Tylan McMillian, who had a thunderous dunk.
Aberdeen then scored the first five points of the second quarter, including another trey from Keaton and a second monster dunk by McMillian, to stretch its lead to 33-7.
Humphreys County battled Aberdeen on almost even terms the remainder of the period en route to a 48-19 halftime deficit.
Six third-quarter treys -- three by Derrell Carouthers, two from McMillian and one by Simms -- extended the lead to 77-31 entering the fourth quarter. A 29-10 differential in the final stanza accounted for the 65-point spread in an onslaught that included 11 3-pointers.
McMillian led four-double figure scorers with a game-high 25 points, followed by Simms (18), Derrell Carouthers (15), and Marcus Carouthers (14).
Cameron Belle added eight, Keaton had seven, Juwan Davis and Sammie Burroughs added six, Trent Davis had five, and Terrell Carouthers chipped in with two.
Aberdeen will play host to North Panola, a 70-50 winner against North Pontotoc, at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the Class 3A North Half playoffs.