February 25, 2018 12:30:36 AM
By Hunter Sciara
Special to The Dispatch
The Montgomery County High School boys basketball beat West Lowndes 55-44 on Saturday night in the second round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 1A State tournament.
Decoreyan Small led the Hornets with 26 points, while Qua Sanders had 16 points to lead the Panthers.
West Lowndes came out in sync defensively, allowing only one field goal and four points in the first quarter. Zack Tucker had two steals and aggravated the Montgomery County ballhandlers all night, playing tight defense on Small from baseline to baseline.
West Lowndes coach Nick Christy said the Panthers wanted to try different things in an effort to frustrate Small.
"We brought double teams, used different players to guard him, and the game plan was working great there in the first quarter," Christy said.
The second quarter didn't produce the same results.
Trailing 11-4 after eight minutes, Montgomery County scored eight points from the free-throw line in a 22-point second quarter.
The Hornets also went inside to take a 26-24 halftime lead.
"At halftime we spent a good amount of time talking about our offense and trying to get people to where we want them to be," Christy said. "We just were not getting set up correct when they drove the baseline, and the pressure just got to us."
West Lowndes regrouped to take a 39-36 lead entering the final quarter.
Dalen Rogers (nine points) blocked a shot off the backboard and had a steal that led to a fast-break layup.
Rogers' defensive playmaking ability appeared to give the Panthers the momentum. Unfortunately, the Panthers, the fourth quarter did not go their way. West Lowndes struggled on offense in the fourth quarter.
"As I evaluated our team all season long," Christy said, "I knew we weren't going to win the game shooting threes. We were just trying to grind it out as much as we could."
Christy, who as an assistant coach to Torrey Dale last season, said the Panthers showed a lot of promise in his first year as head coach.
He said the Panthers look forward to next season after losing only one senior: Tucker.
"Zack (Tucker) has done real well," Christy said. "Last season we lost pretty much everybody, including a lot of our point production. But now we've got a lot of kids that get to come back and play two full seasons. We've got some young guys I am excited about, even all the way down to our middle school program, so I am really excited about what we can build here as a program."
n The West Lowndes girls were eliminated with a 60-44 loss to McAdams Friday night in a second-round playoff game at home.
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