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Columbus defeats host-team Tupelo in division tourney


From Special Reports



TUPELO — The game plan didn’t change. 


The pregame speech didn’t change. 


The only thing that changed Tuesday night was the degree of discipline and the level of execution the Columbus High School boys basketball team delivered. 


As a result, the Falcons will live to play again. 


Bobby Wrench and Akeem Toppin scored 16 points each to lead Columbus to a 62-59 victory against Tupelo in the Class 6A, Division 2, District 4 tournament at Tupelo High School. 


With the victory, Columbus (13-11) advances to play Starkville at 7:30 p.m. Friday night to determine the district champion. 


Columbus coach Sammy Smith said he could tell Saturday at practice that his players were focused. He said the team didn’t allow a 61-57 overtime loss to West Lowndes on Friday fester and instead came together and played one of its best games of the season to stay alive. 


“The guys did a tremendous job,” Smith said. “We didn’t put any new plays in we just did what we tried to do all year. It was a good time to execute the game plan.” 


Columbus led by 16 points in the third quarter and staved off a furious rally by Tupelo before holding on. 


Herman Roberts added 15 points, Deontae Jones had 10, and Michael Hall added five. 


“All good teams have a run in them and better teams hold them off, and we were the better team tonight,” Smith said. “That goes back to being disciplined, not panicking, and staying focused and weathering the storm. 


“We were so disciplined and it made me feel real good because the guys stepped up. We played with a sense of urgency and we were disciplined and the coaching staff had its ‘A’ game going on. It was a team effort tonight.” 


n Starkville 80, South Panola 42 (B): At Tupelo, Edward Townsel scored a team-high 31 points to lead the Yellow Jackets (23-2) to the title game of the Class 6A, Division 2, District 4 tournament. 


Rashad Perkins added 19 points and nine rebounds, and Gavin Ware had nine points and nine rebounds to help Starkville advance to face Columbus at 7:30 p.m. Friday. 


“We played pretty well,” Starkville coach Greg Carter said. “South Panola started off making some shots early in the game and we switched defenses a little bit and it took them out of what they were trying to do and energized us at the same time.” 


Carter was pleased with the effort because it enabled him to use all of his players and everybody saw significant minutes. He praised all of his bench players for their contributions. 


Antonio Jones had 18 points and Chad Rudd and Terrance Lamar each added 10 for South Panola. 


n Starkville , Tupelo (G): Kala Williams had 24 points and Johniece Moore added 20 as the Lady Yellow Jackets (16-7) used a third-quarter surge to advance to the title game of the Class 6A, Division 2, District 4 tournament. 


After trailing 35-27 at halftime, Starkville used a 25-10 third quarter to seize the momentum and earn the right to advance to face South Panola at 6 p.m. Friday for the district championship. 


“We came out kind of sluggish and were outscored 24-14 in the second quarter,” Starkville coach Kristie Williams said. “I don’t know if we were still under the emotional high of it being a put-out situation, but we settled them down in the third quarter and told them there is no more tomorrow.” 


Williams said the Lady Yellow Jackets responded by going to a full-court man pressure defense that helped turn the tide. She said Starkville also used halfcourt man and zone defenses, stayed on the ball, and fought to the end. 


Williams praised the effort of senior Briana Henderson, who replaced Shay Bonner (10 points) when she fouled out with five minutes to play in the third quarter. 


“The momentum didn’t shift at all and Briana came in and was able to keep everything flowing,” Williams said.  


Courtney Moore also had 12 points (12 of 13 from the free-throw line) on a balanced scoring night that Williams said was crucial. 


Kari Copeland had 14 points and Antoinnette Riddle had 13 to lead Tupelo. 


n South Panola 56, Columbus 52 (G): At Tupelo, Courtney Cunningham had a team-high 16 points and four rebounds, but the Lady Falcons (10-12) lost in the semifinals of the Class 6A, Division 2, District 4 tournament. 


Toni Petty had 13 points, Maggie Proffitt had 12, and Brelana Coleman added five.  


“We came out and played really well,” Columbus coach Yvonne Hairston said. “We lost the game in the third quarter. We were down by one point going into halftime and they came back out and outscored us 17-5.” 


Hairston said South Panola hit some tough 3-pointers to take a 10-point lead. The Lady Falcons adjusted but had trouble generating offense until the fourth quarter. 


“It is all about us making adjustments and we didn’t take care of things in the third quarter,” Hairston said. “They played well. South Panola is a very good team. We played extremely well but we just came up short.” 


The Lady Falcons played without freshman point guard Kiki Patterson. 


n New Hope 64, Saltillo 49 (B): At Saltillo, Raymond Walters had a team-high 21 points Tuesday night to lead the Trojans (23-3) into the title game of the Class 5A, Division 2, District 1 tournament. 


Jeremy Byrd had 16 points, Johnathan Brandon added 14, and Jamal Richardson had eight for New Hope, which will play Oxford at 7:30 p.m. Friday. 


“I thought we did a good job defensively and rebounding,” New Hope coach Drew McBrayer said. “It’s always nice this time of the year to win and move on.” 


n New Hope 48, Oxford 46 (G): At Saltillo, D.J. Sanders had four 3-pointers in a 16-point evening Tuesday to lead the Lady Trojans (15-10) into the title game of the Class 5A, Division 2, District 1 tournament. 


Kelli Petty had 13 points, Rachel Hollivay added 10, and Kia Edmonds had seven for New Hope, which will play West Point at 6 p.m. Friday. 


“We have been struggling with free throws and tonight we made free throws when we needed to,” New Hope coach Laura Lee Holman said. “We played a lot better defense than we did the last time we played Oxford. We held them to only four 3-pointers. I am proud of the girls. They played hard, they played together, and they played very smart.” 


n West Point 52, Saltillo 30 (G): At Saltillo, Kelsei Ewings had 22 points Tuesday night to lead the Lady Green Wave (15-6) into the title game of the Class 5A, Division 2, District 1 tournament. 


Yakira Edwards had 12 points, while Wilma Davis had eight for West Point, which will play New Hope at 6 p.m. Friday. 


“Our defense worked hard,” West Point coach Jemmye Ann Helms said. “We were real aggressive. We shot the ball a little better. We still didn’t have much scoring from our post players, but overall I was pleased with the effort in our first game. They played together.” 


West Point beat Saltillo twice in the regular season, so Helms had reason to be a little leery trying to defeat a team for the third time, especially on its home floor. 


But she said it took about a quarter for the Lady Green Wave to work past the nervousness after a 15-8 start. West Point outscored Saltillo by 10 points in each of the next two quarters, which allowed Helms to go to her bench. 


The West Point boys lost 77-52 to Oxford. 


n West Lowndes 38, East Webster 16 (G): At Bruce, the Lady Panthers put the clamps on the Lady Wolverines defensively to advance in the MHSAA Class 2A, Region 2 Tournament. 


West Lowndes allowed only two points in the first quarter, four in the second, one in the third and nine in the fourth. The Lady Panthers led 10-2, 16-6, and 31-7 at the quarter breaks. 


West Lowndes was led by Corey Nevills with a game-high 14 points, Marquita Gray with 11 and Daysha Humphreys with nine. 


Katesa Bear was the leading scorer for East Webster with 10 points. 


West Lowndes will play Bruce at 7 p.m. Thursday. 


n East Webster 65, Hamilton 64 (B): At Bruce, Jamie McKee made a 3-pointer from the left corner at the buzzer to lift the Wolverines in the MHSAA Class 2A, Region 2 Tournament. 


Ledrick Patterson missed a 3-pointer and got his rebound and passed



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