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Columbus sweeps Noxubee County in basketball doubleheader


Scott Walters



Columbus High School senior Casey Smith had a feeling it might be his night when he hit his first 3-pointer. 


When his second 3-pointer hit the iron, bounced in the air, hit the iron again, bounced high one more time, bounced off the glass, and then rolled for a few seconds before finding home, he knew for sure. 


Smith dominated the second quarter, while teammate Robert Woodard II owned the first quarter and Denijay Harris controlled the third. 


The end result was a 67-49 victory over Noxubee County on Tuesday night. 


"When we turn it on, we are really good," Smith said. "It's just all about cutting out that lull. We haven't started fast in games. When we play to our full potential, we are hard to handle." 


Woodard II challenged his teammates to start fast on defense. 


Columbus forced seven turnovers in the first 1 minute, 45 seconds, as Smith's second 3-pointer capped a 16-2 run. 


"Defensive energy," Woodard II said. "That is what we talked about leaving the locker room. Everybody bringing it on the defensive end. We got a ton of easy baskets there to start the game. It's how we have been wanting to start games this season, but haven't been able to do so." 


Columbus' senior-laden squad has some new faces and is adapting to its fourth head coach in four seasons. 


"Each season, it seems like we have had an adjustment period," Woodard II said. "It has taken a while to get things going. That was something we worked on real hard during this offseason. How can we start the season better and not look up and be behind record wise? Each year at Columbus, you start out unranked and underappreciated. 


"We wanted to give everybody something to take note of early this season." 


Smith scored 10 first-quarter points. Woodard did everything else, with five points, seven rebounds, three steals, three blocked shots, and an assist to help Columbus end the quarter with a 25-9 lead. It would be more than enough of a cushion against a competitive but outmanned Noxubee County squad. 


In the second quarter, Smith scored the last of his 16 points as the Falcons ended the half with an 11-0 run for a 41-21 lead. 


"You are just beginning to see what we can become," Columbus coach Anthony Carlyle said. "We feel good because on any given night it can be a different player carrying us." 


In the third quarter, Harris scored his team's first nine points as Columbus continued to force turnovers and turn them into easy baskets in transition. 


"We are still learning," Harris said. "When we get baskets in transition, we are in good shape. The shots were really falling. If we have more than one guy on at the same time, it's a good thing for us." 


Harris led Columbus (4-2) with 23 points. Smith added 16, while Woodard II had 12 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks. 


Sonterious Simpson had 13 points to lead Noxubee County (0-3). 


n Columbus girls 47, Noxubee County 27: In the opener, the Lady Falcons cruised to improve to 5-1. 


"It wasn't our best game, but we are still learning," Columbus coach Yvonne Hairston said. "We are playing a lot of young players (who) are getting the first varsity experience. If you can do that and still win games, you feel good about things. 


"We were sluggish early, but we picked up the pace late in the game. We want to be up-tempo, and we did a better job of that in the second half." 


Hairston said she was impressed by the play of freshman guard Danyjhia Jackson, a niece of senior football player Patrick Jackson. Jackson earned her first start Tuesday. 


"She really gave us some good minutes," Hairston said. "It was the first time this season that a team ran a box-in-one on (junior guard Hannah White). We adjusted well. We will have to learn how to play like that because other teams will do it, too." 


White led Columbus with 19 points, while Berniya Hardin had 10. 


Jacaubriya Cheatham had 10 points for Noxubee County (0-3). 


n In other action Tuesday night, Choctaw County High swept Starkville Academy. In the boys game, Trey Tyler had 12 points to lead the Volunteers in a 62-27 loss. Raegan Richardson added five steals. 


Mary Peyton Passons had 18 points and nine rebounds in the Starkville Academy girls basketball team's 45-37 loss. Mari Laci Archer had eight points and three steals, and Aubrey Campbell had three points, seven rebounds, four assists, and five steals, and Milla Davis had six assists. 


n Eli Acker and Carter Putt had 19 points to lead the Heritage Academy boys basketball team to a 69-45 victory against Tuscaloosa Academy. 


Tuscaloosa Academy won the girls game 56-25. 


n Reiley Tate had 14 points to lead the Oak Hill Academy boys basketball team to a 59-39 victory against Winston Academy. Daniel Harrington (12) and Ash Cullum (11) scored in double figures, while Nate Lamkin added nine points. 


Julia Bristow had 22 points to lead the Oak Hill Academy girls to a 58-50 overtime victory. Anna Kathryn Childress had 16 points and Emily Allen added 13. 


n Celia Peal had 18 points to lead the Columbus Christian Academy girls basketball team to a 47-24 victory against Starkville Christian. Anna Minga had 10 points, Audrey Foreman had eight, Kylie Emerson had four, Leslie Burns had four points and five rebounds, and Elizabeth Easterling had two points and 10 rebounds. 


The CCA boys, who were playing without senior leader Nate Parker, lost to Starkville Christian. 


n The Starkville Academy boys soccer team opened its season with a 2-1 victory against Pillow Academy on Tuesday night. Garrett Smith and Nathan Pollan scored for the Volunteers.  


Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott


Scott is sports copy editor and reporter


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