Noxubee County rallies to beat West Point


James Bailey, Dispatch Sports Correspondent



Noxubee County''s Shaunessey Smith wants ultimately for his team to advance in postseason play and return to its home court in Macon. 


Smith scored a head-spinning 42 points to lead the Noxubee County Tigers past the West Point Green Wave 73-67 in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A, Region 4 Tournament on Thursday. 


Smith, a Mississippi State signee, scored on jumpers from the outside, follow-ups on the inside, 3-pointers from 24 feet, layups, and all spots on the court in between. 


"Our goal was to win the game and get another home game on Tuesday," Smith said. "West Point has a lot of athletes. We wanted this game. It was a real big game and we couldn''t lose it. I did not want to play in the loser''s bracket (today)." 


For much of the second half his goal was in jeopardy. 


Trailing by nine points with only 2 minutes, 58 seconds remaining in the game, Smith found a gear that most athletes only dream about. 


Noxubee County narrowed the gap to one point in a dizzying 1 minute period, sparked by 3-pointers by Smith and Earnest Harmon and a clutch three-point trip to the free throw line by Smith. 


With only 1:20 remaining, Smith scored again on a jumper to give the Tigers a 64-63 lead. 


West Point coach Winston Varnado called time out. 


A costly foul by Noxubee County sent West Point''s Garry Hughes to the free throw line for a one and one. 


Hughes succeeded with both foul shots to allow the Green Wave to regain the lead at 65-64. 


From this point on Smith''s desire to avoid road games rang true as Noxubee County found the reserve and determination to deny West Point another lead. 


West Point''s Lakin Petty missed two crucial free throws and Noxubee still led 69-67 with only 17 seconds remaining. 


Noxubee went to the free throw line for four more points and ended the game up by six. 


"West Point is not a team I wanted to play in the first round because I knew how good they are and how well coached and athletic they are," Noxubee County coach T. J. Billups said.¬† "We wanted to secure a home game next Tuesday. We had the right people in the right places." 


Noxubee County came out in the first quarter by challenging West Point with its up-tempo offense and jumped to a 16-13 first quarter lead. 


Until the waning minutes of the game, however, Noxubee County hit a cold spell and West Point seized the opportunity and led 35-30 at halftime. 


Michael Carr led West Point with 18 points. Hughes scored 15 and Petty pulled down seven rebounds and scored 11 points for the Green Wave. 


"Noxubee is a good team and their superstar (Smith) just stepped up," West Point coach Winston Varnado said."We had to play patient and had to lead. They came out with a press that surprised us. We rushed some shots at the end that we normally hit." 


Noxubee County plays New Hope at 8:30 p.m. today in the district championship game. West Point plays West Lauderdale at 5:30 p.m. in the consolation game. 


n Kosciusko 67, West Point 59 (G): Kurlysha Bell led the Kosciusko Lady Whippets with 26-points en route to a 67-59 win over West Point in the Thursday first game of the District 4 Class 4A Playoff at New Hope High gymnasium. 


"It was a good win," Bell said. "We really wanted to win and I was pleased with the way I played," 


Jessica Miles contributed 21-points for Kosciusko. 


At halftime it seemed West Point was in control by leading 38-25. But the lady Whippets outscored the Lady Green Wave 21-10 in the third quarter to pull within 48-46. 


Kosciusko (16-9, 5-2) surged ahead early in the fourth quarter with aggressive play on the boards. ¬†Cassiana Primer made two free throws and grabbed a steal and a basket to put Kosciusko up by six points with 3:32 remaining. 


West Point (18-9, 4-3) committed turnovers at crucial points to prevent a run to overtake Kosciusko. 


The Lady Green Wave closed the gap to five points with 1:34 remaining on a steal and free throw by Yakira Edwards, but Kosciusko answered with two of its own. 


Edwards led West Point in scoring with 24-points. Kelsie Ewings added 18 and Kourtney Crowley scored 15. 


West Point coach Jemmy Ann Helms believes poor post play, costly turnovers, and players in foul trouble contributed to Kosciusko regaining the lead and preventing her team from securing a win. 


"We got outplayed in the second half, totally," Helms said. "Kosciusko just played well and outscored us when they had to and out rebounded us when they had to. You can''t stop playing hard this time of year. We did and we got beat." 


Kosciusko plays Noxubee County at 7 in the district championship game. West Point plays Neshoba Central at 4 p.m. in the consolation game. 




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