Columbus freshman guard D.J. Jackson (14) protects the dribble as Tupelo’s Janiah Hinton (0) pursues. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff
January 30, 2018 11:12:28 PM
Columbus High School girls' basketball coach Yvonne Hairston may watch the tape to make sure it was her team on the floor Tuesday night.
"I am more than happy, I am ecstatic," Hairston said. "That was an unbelievable performance. We will enjoy this for the night and then come back ready to work on South Panola. It never stops."
Columbus needed a late rally to knock off Tupelo last week on the road. In the rematch, there was no need for a rally thanks to a dominating 66-40 victory in Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A, Region 2 play.
"This showed what we are capable of doing," Columbus junior Hannah White said. "Anytime we get down, we can go back this game. I think this will help us a lot throughout the rest of the season."
Hairston was already cautioning that a potential third meeting with Tupelo could be right around the corner at the region tournament. However, that concern was for another day.
In the first meeting, Columbus used a 21-3 game-ending run to steal a 51-46 victory on the road. In the rematch, Tupelo (15-8, 3-2) played a box-in-one on White. White scored 30 points in game one.
In game two, White was held scoreless in the first quarter. Columbus still led 18-3.
"That was an amazing quarter," Hairston said. "We knew they were going to play the box-in-one this game. We challenged the other players to step up and make shots. Deryona Smith answered the call. She was great. You look at the offensive game from D.J. Jackson. She was special."
Smith scored six of her team's first 10 points as Columbus quickly built a 10-0 lead. The Lady Falcons fought uphill most of the first battle. There would be no need in the rematch.
"This team just has a lot of confidence," Jackson said. "We always play hard. We rebound. We are mentally tough. If we can make some shots, we can win a lot of games. I think it is important that we can take some of the pressure off Hannah. If more players score, it makes it easier on everybody."
White scored her first points on a layup to start the second quarter. The Lady Wave quickly went to work and whittled a 17-point deficit down to six at 22-16.
As she has done multiple times, White settled the team down with seven straight points.
Columbus ran the lead back to 33-22 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Tupelo pulled within 33-27 when Hairston called a timeout.
"Best timeout of the season," Hairston said. "We were playing well. It was just a reminder to calm down and to continue to play our game. We answered each of their runs and I am really proud that a young team was able to do that."
Jabria Snell hit back-to-back baskets to kickstart a 13-2 run which ran the lead to 20 at 52-32 midway through the fourth quarter.
Smith finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while White had 13 points. Jackson had a season-high 11 points, with four steals and five assists.
"When we get some easy baskets, we can be tough to beat," Jackson said. "The key is keeping that defensive pressure going."
Hairston said her team drew a large amount of confidence from the dramatic win at Tupelo.
"We approached this game with a different mind-set," Hairston said. "To win the way we did the first time around really set the tone for this game."
With two region games remaining, Columbus can clinch the top seed in the region tournament with a win at South Panola Friday night.
"Being 3-1 in the region is huge," Hairston said. "We lost the first matchup with South Panola. So we will have to be ready to play."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.
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