Caledonia High School’s Cooper McCleskey goes up for a shot in a group of Corinth defenders Tuesday in their Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A North State tournament at Caledonia High. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch
February 20, 2019 1:16:18 PM
By Don Rowe
CALEDONIA -- The term "run" in basketball circles is when one team scores any number of points in rapid succession, while the opposing team scores a few points or none at all.
In the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A North State playoff game between Caledonia and Corinth, runs were the order of the day -- the type of runs where one team scored "none at all." Caledonia sandwiched two such runs around one by Corinth to grab a nine-point halftime lead en route to a 48-38 victory on Tuesday night.
The Confederates opened the game with a 7-0 run, one that forced Corinth coach Keith Greene to call a timeout. Whatever Greene shared with his players must have made an impression because the Warriors scored 10 straight points to take a 10-7 lead with less than two minutes left in the first quarter.
Two old-fashioned 3-point plays on layups and subsequent free throws by Caledonia's Tyrin Johnson and Corinth's D.K. Gaines made it 13-10, but Caledonia used an 11-point run to take a 21-13 lead midway through the second quarter. Johnson had back-to-back steals he converted into layups and added a free throw, while Devonte Martin had two baskets in the run.
Both teams battled on near-even terms the remainder of the period, but the Confederates used a late four-point run to take a 29-20 halftime lead.
The Confederates opened the third quarter with a 5-0 run to extend their advantage to 34-20. They increased the cushion to 41-26 entering the fourth quarter thanks in part to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Donderius Jones.
Corinth used a seven-point run to slice the deficit to 41-33 early in the fourth quarter, but scoring was at premium in the final five minutes, as Caledonia kept its season alive.
"Our turnovers and their offensive rebounding allowed Corinth to scratch its way back into the game there in the first quarter and early in the second," Caledonia coach Gary Griffin said. "At halftime, we talked about what we needed to do to improve in the second half -- things like proper execution, penetration, and hitting our free throws.
"We did a better job in the second half, but what really made the difference was our size advantage and athleticism, which finally got to them."
Griffin was quick to praise Corinth despite its 10-19 record.
"Corinth gave us a battle, and they have a great basketball tradition to fall back on," Griffin said. "They lost in the finals last year, so they know what it takes to become a good basketball team."
Martin claimed scoring honors with a game-high 15-point effort. Johnson had all 12 of his points in the first half. Romeo Sanders (eight), Cooper McCleskey (six), Jones (five), and Jarvis Leigh (two) rounded out the scoring for Caledonia.
"Tyrin (Johnson), who we call a combo-guard, played a good game overall with his scoring, rebounding, and defensive play," Griffin said. "His intensity keeps us going in the right direction. Devonte (Martin) had two good halves offensively, and Cooper's (McCleskey) steady play on both ends of the court was crucial."
Corinth's five starters accounted for all but three of its points. Gaines led the way with 11, which was one point more than Kito Windham and Tameron Patterson.
Caledonia will face Louisville, which defeated Yazoo City 41-39, on Saturday on the road.
n In other MHSAA playoff action, Southaven eliminated Columbus 53-45 in Class 6A. In Class 5A, Olive Branch defeated West Point 87-29. In Class 4A, Greenwood beat New Hope 57-50. In Class 3A, Ruleville defeated Aberdeen 61-36. In Class 2A, Baldwyn beat East Webster 66-55. In Class 1A, Hamilton edged Ethel 62-58 and West Lowndes rolled past French Camp 75-40.
n In the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, the Heritage Academy boys defeated Bowling Green 50-27 in the opening round of the Class AAA State tournament at Leake Academy.
Heritage Academy will play the winner of the game Wednesday between Riverfield Academy and Canton Academy at 6 p.m. Friday. The top three teams in the tournament advance to the Overall State tournament.
In the girls' Class AAA State tournament, Columbia Academy defeated Starkville Academy 44-34. Meri Laci Archer had 12 points to lead the Lady Volunteers.
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