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Olive Branch girls hand Columbus first loss

 

Columbus High School’s Hannah White goes up for a shot but is met by Olive Branch’s Endya Buford in their game Saturday night. White had 20 points, but Buford a game-high 32 in a 61-49 victory in the Joe Horne Christmas Classic.

Columbus High School’s Hannah White goes up for a shot but is met by Olive Branch’s Endya Buford in their game Saturday night. White had 20 points, but Buford a game-high 32 in a 61-49 victory in the Joe Horne Christmas Classic. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch

 

Adam Minichino

 

 

Yvonne Hairston believes the Columbus High School girls basketball team can outscore any team on its schedule. 

 

On Saturday, Endya Buford and Olive Branch proved they were a little better at putting the ball in the basket. 

 

Buford, a junior guard who is a member of The Clarion-Ledger's Dandy Dozen, scored a game-high 32 points in a 61-49 victory against No. 1 and previously undefeated Columbus at the 22nd-annual Joe Horne Christmas Classic at Columbus High. 

 

Hannah White, another member of the Dandy Dozen, which recognizes the state's top players, led Columbus (10-1) with 20 points. Jatyler Turner had 17, but the Lady Falcons were 1-for-10 from the 3-point line in the fourth quarter and 1-for-14 from behind the arc in the second half. 

 

Coupled with an inconsistent effort in handling the basketball against the full-court pressure of Olive Branch (15-1), Columbus came up short on a night when Hairston knew her team didn't play its best. 

 

"We knew 25 (Buford) could play," Hairston said. "We knew coming in that we had two tough games (in the Christmas Classic). I felt like we could win them. We're not going to make excuses. No. 25 is real good. She is a Dandy Dozen for a reason. She played really well. 

 

"We tried everything to defend her but we just couldn't' stop her." 

 

Buford used her quickness to beat any player who tried to guard her. She also showed range out to the 3-point line when the Lady Falcons played off her to protect against the drive. 

 

Despite Buford's monster evening, Columbus led 37-36 with 3 minutes 20 seconds left in the third quarter following a layup by Turner.  

 

Columbus trailed by only five early in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Falcons relied too much on 3-point shooting to get back into the game. The lack of success proved from distance proved to be too big of a hole to recover from, even though the Lady Falcons cut the deficit to 54-49 with 2:33 to go. 

 

The lack of balanced scoring also hurt Columbus. On Friday, Turner had 18 points and White had 14 in a 57-37 victory against Horn Lake, another of the state's perennial powers. Berniya Hardin added eight and Deryona Smith had nine points to help Columbus recover from a slow start. 

 

Against Olive Branch, Columbus actually started quicker. It led 15-9 after one quarter and seemed to have solved Olive Branch's pressure defense. But the Lady Falcons weren't able to consistently break the Conquistadors' traps. They also were at times a little loose or rushed with the basketball, which enabled Olive Branch to play at its tempo. 

 

"We just didn't get it done," Hairston said. "I don't know if it is was because our legs weren't under us, but we have to learn to play through it." 

 

Hairston said she isn't going to allow the loss to define her team's season. She said the Lady Falcons didn't do things right against what she called "the best team" her squad has faced this season. In the locker room, Hairston said she told her players there is no reason for them to hang their heads because Olive Branch was the better team on this day. She said she is eager to see how her team responds from the loss and gets back on track. 

 

"I told them it doesn't matter as long as you win the last game," Hairston said. "I am glad we got the experience of knowing what we have to do in terms of shooting the ball and making good decisions with the basketball, and being more aggressive. I think Olive Branch was just more aggressive than us tonight." 

 

Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor 

 

 

Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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