February 23, 2009
One day is going to have to be enough for the West Lowndes High School boys basketball team.
That''s all of the time West Lowndes coach Herman Peters'' team had to recover from a loss to McAdams on Saturday before it plays Calhoun City at 8 tonight in Class A action at the Mississippi High School Activities Association Cellular South State Basketball Championships at Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
West Lowndes (22-7) lost 54-47 to McAdams in the Class A South State Tournament championship game in Sallis. The game was the team''s third in three days and set the stage for it to play its fourth in five days today on the state tournament''s first day.
Peters, whose team lost to East Oktibbeha in the semifinals of the Class A State Tournament in 2007, said the Panthers didn''t practice Sunday in an attempt to regain their legs after the South State Tournament.
West Lowndes scored 75, 80 and 79 points in victories against Mount Olive, Dexter, and Durant to advance to the South State title game.
Unfortunately, Peters said the Panthers didn''t have their legs and missed too many shots they usually make against McAdams.
The result means a quick turnaround, but Peters is confident his players will be rested and ready to go tonight.
"This is one of those games where you just have to play because you really don''t have a scouting report because you didn''t know who you were going to play until Saturday night," Peters said. "We took a day off and regrouped and we got a lot of stuff together. We just got ourselves together mentally."
That West Lowndes advanced to Jackson is a credit to Peters and his players. Peters said the Panthers were "flat" in a loss to East Oktibbeha in the title game of the division tournament.
Since then, West Lowndes has recharged its pressure defense and used it to control the tempo in its first three victories.
Two years ago, Peters said West Lowndes set a state tournament record for forced turnovers and steals (40) in its 84-51 victory against Thomastown.
East Oktibbeha then beat West Lowndes 69-59 in the semifinals en route to winning the state title.
Peters hopes the day of rest (nearly two since tonight''s game will start a little later than usual) will help spark the press, which keys the offense.
"One of the game plans is we''re going to have to use our speed," Peters said.
The Panthers also had motivation on their side. One state newspaper picked Durant to beat West Lowndes on Friday night. Peters said his players saw that and used it to motivate them to keep their season alive.
"They played real hard and wanted to prove them wrong," Peters said. "They stepped up their game and exerted a lot of energy that night."
The motivation tonight will be to keep the season alive.
Senior starters Devin Malone, Jeremy Smart, and Corey Wilson will lead the Panthers tonight. Classmates Corinthian Hairston, John Barney, and Nick Mayfield and junior Demetrius Malone and sophomore Tyquan Lucious are just some of the players Peters will look to for key contributions to accomplish that goal.
A victory tonight would give either team a chance to rest before playing Myrtle at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Peters doesn''t want to think that far ahead. His main concern today is getting out of school early enough so his players have enough time to regroup after the nearly three-hour trip to Jackson.
Peters isn''t surprised the Panthers have earned a return trip to Jackson. He said his players remained focused after the loss to East Oktibbeha in the division championship and stayed confident they could realize their goal to get to the "Big House."
"That''s what they put their mind to," Peters said. "I told them there is no such thing as a good loss, but our losses were ''good losses'' because we were still in a position to advance."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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