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Building for next season

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Lucas Jackson shoots a jumper in the lane. PHOTOS BY BRIAN BESCHLucas Jackson shoots a jumper in the lane. PHOTOS BY BRIAN BESCHBy Brian Besch

The Coldspring Trojans led throughout Friday’s contest with Onalaska, winning 93-67.

The Trojans raced out to an early advantage, going up 20-3 with a few minutes left in the first quarter. However, Onalaska fought back, closing to within 10 midway through the second period at 30-20.

Coldspring had five players score in double figures to lead the way. Cam Shaw-Rucker had 18 points, Luke Monroe had 17, K.D. Bookman had 14, and Xzavien Major and K.J. Harden each had 10.

“We came off of a tough game last night,” Coldspring coach Greg Devers said. “This is our second game in as many nights and I’m not really sure how our legs were. During the first quarter, they kind of answered my question of how they were. It looks like we took the lead for granted and the Onalaska kids didn’t quit. Our press really gave them problems.

“We lost focus throughout the game. We’ve got three big games next week and I try to keep them focused, but sometimes it is hard to do for a teenager. We missed four days of practice last week because of COVID. Last night, we were cramping up, and you could tell that we are just a little rusty. I’m hoping these games will prepare us for the next three games. We are tied for second right now with Tarkington. They are off tonight, so we are both 5-2. New Waverly is 7-0. We have Trinity, Tarkington and New Waverly in the next three ball games, so it is going to be tough.”

After a slow start, Onalaska competed well and showed no signs of quitting. Bryan Wyatt led the team with 20 points, Johnny Byrd had 10 and Lucas Jackson and Gauge Mosley each had six.

“I was disappointed with the start,” Onalaska coach Nick Tyerman said.

“Shots were not falling and there were some silly turnovers, but once we calmed down, we were able to get a rhythm and go. I think we played pretty even after that. We just can’t start like that. In practice, you try to make it as helter-skelter as you can, because when you play them, it is chaotic. You try to make practice the best you can to simulate it.”

Onalaska has now been eliminated from the playoffs this season, but the coach is looking forward to getting playing time for his younger players and ready for next season.

“I think we can play spoiler to a couple of other teams, so that is what we will take pride in doing,” Tyerman said. “This group is statistically the best offensive team that I have had in terms of shooting and taking care of the ball. We just have to take that next step next year, which I think we will. We need to be more physical and spend time in that weight room this summer and spring to get us strong, where we can compete for a playoff berth next year.”

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Fighting for higher seed

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Josh Perkins is fouled on the shot. Josh Perkins is fouled on the shot. By Brian Besch

Second place in District 28-1A was up for grabs Tuesday in Dudley Dickens Gymnasium, and the two contestants needed overtime to decide it. Following a fourth-quarter Zavalla comeback, Leggett would take the game 70-65 in overtime.

The Pirates were out in front for most of the night, but the Eagles managed to come from behind by seven to give the audience bonus basketball.

“It was a nail biter,” Pirate coach Ra’Shod Jefferson said. “We ran out of gas and I have a couple of players that are a little under the weather. They came out and played and I applaud them for playing tough and through that. It had me on my toes. We played through and we finished and we did not give up. They fought through the whole thing. There are games where we play and we give up and don't want to continue to fight. They had the big heart and played through it.”

Jacolby Sells guided Leggett through overtime, scoring seven in the shortened period.

Sells led all scores with 30 points, Jesse Calderas and Joshua Perkins had 15, and Andres Diosdado had eight. Quetien Oliphan provided valuable minutes off the bench, causing havoc on defense.

The coach said getting everyone back will be key for the stretch run of district. He wants to see his squad play team ball, rebound and begin hitting the midrange jumper.

“The midrange jumper, that is what is killing us,” Jefferson said. “We can shoot from outside whenever we are hot, but that midrange is killing us. I stress to them all through practice to box out and rebound the ball on the offense and defensive end and rebound. I have to see what I need to do to get them to box out. We play tough and we play tight on defense, because in practice we play open with no fouls. When you come into the game, you just play through it.”

The win pulls the Pirates into a second-place tie with Zavalla, as the Eagles took the first game between the two. Friday, the team will travel to Burkeville before returning home for the rivalry with Goodrich Tuesday.

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Lady Hawks soar

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The Lady Lion defense swarms in the lane.The Lady Lion defense swarms in the lane.By Brian Besch

The Livingston Lady Lions ran into a buzzsaw in the state-ranked Lady Hawks Friday, losing 91-28. The competition was likely over after the first quarter, but Hardin-Jefferson has ruined the night early for many teams this season.

A quick Lady Lion advantage was soon in the rearview mirror, never to return. Hardin-Jefferson scored 30 in the opening period and it would be all they needed for the game.

“We were up at first, 7-5 and then I looked up and it just wasn’t there,” Livingston coach Brittany Jefferson said. “But they (Livingston) actually played good in the first quarter. It was real well, but then we had turnovers – a lot of them. The press wasn’t really too much more than we can handle, we were just turning the ball over too much. At first, they were running a simple press, 1-2-2, and we just needed to get the ball in the middle, but they kept dribbling into the trap. That is what got us beat.”

Scoring was spread amongst the Lady Lions with Jon’Toyrian McNeal’s eight points leading the way, Natavia Davis had six, while Mia Poncho and N’Ziya Washington each had five.

There is certainly no shame in losing to the state’s No. 2 team. The Lady Lions will need to begin a new district win streak to grab one of the district’s four playoff spots.

“There is no shame at all,” Jefferson said. “We are just going to take it and it is over with. We will sit and watch films of the different mistakes that we made with the turnovers and point out some good stuff.”

The coach said from what she saw in the first quarter, her team can compete at a high level. She is looking to turn what is learned into a postseason run. The team next travels to Liberty Tuesday to take on the Lady Panthers.

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State-ranked H-J claims narrow win

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Julian Gardner gets two of his six points in the first half. PHOTOS BY BRIAN BESCHJulian Gardner gets two of his six points in the first half. PHOTOS BY BRIAN BESCHBy Brian Besch

In a game for the District 21-4A lead, the Livingston Lions fell a couple of buckets short of Hardin-Jefferson 62-56 Friday night in Sour Lake.

After a small lead to start the game, the Lions fell behind by 10 and seemed to fight all night around that deficit. A traditional power, the Hawks have another solid squad with several contributors and a deep bench.

Getting many of their points off turnovers, the Hawks scored 22 and 17 in the first two quarters, respectively. The Lions adjusted and held them to 10 and 13 in the second half. A furious comeback effort in the fourth quarter that included more pressing produced 21 points for the Lions, their best offensive showing.

“The main thing that hurt us was the pressure,” Livingston coach Calvin Phillips said. “We didn’t handle that very well until we started to settle down and started to make a comeback. We hit a few baskets seeing the open man. We kind of beat ourselves because we wouldn’t take our time. That’s what they want to do, is rush us. We played their game rushing for maybe eight minutes or more and that is how they got the push on us. We have to be content and be patient, and then we might have pulled it out.

Hardin-Jefferson had contributions from seven scorers, led by Jonathan Melvo with 21, Micah Brown 11 and R.J. Sears with nine. Livingston’s Tae McNeal led the Lions with a dozen, Terrance Gray had 11, Jayden Randolph 10 and Brian O’Neal with seven.

“We’ve just got to go get Liberty on Tuesday,” Phillips said. “It is one of the things that we talked about where we have to be patient in order to beat these guys. Randolph had a pretty good game, but they beat us inside getting rebounds, because we weren’t doing a good job of boxing out. That is one of the things that we should have taken care of. It is small, but it didn’t happen.”

Even with the loss, confidence should be very high going into the second round of district. A six-point loss could have been much different with a few breaks going the other way. There are adjustments to be made and the Lions can hope that the 28 fouls called against them compared to 10 on the Hawks is an aberration.

“That is what they (Lion players) were saying to me in the dressing room – that if we played them this close at their place, we should be able to get them at home. I think they were a little surprised themselves, but we were playing good ball. When we play our ball, we do a pretty good job. I don’t feel bad about it at all. The kids competed and did what we wanted to do. We just kind of fell short.”

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Still in the race

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Ayden Sowders shoots a jumper in the paint. (Below) Bryce Lawrence gets to the rim.Ayden Sowders shoots a jumper in the paint. (Below) Bryce Lawrence gets to the rim.By Brian Besch

Needing a win in district play, the Corrigan-Camden Bulldogs pulled off a 62-56 victory over the Pineywoods Christian Academy Timberwolves Friday on the north side of Polk County.

The competition was a tight one throughout and the Timberwolves held a few different leads in the game. However, the Bulldogs answered every time.

Each team was down a few players and both would need others to step into bigger roles.

“It was a good win. Both teams were down (a few players), so I knew it was going to be a battle,” Corrigan coach Andrew Kirkindoff said. “You could tell the inexperience in some places, but I told them that mistakes are going to happen during the game, but you have to continue to keep pushing. I think they did that and I told them in the locker room that this is nothing but a learning experience for us. I am just happy that we got the win.”

Corrigan-Camden’s offense moved the ball well in the first half, and especially in the first quarter, when they scored 19 points. The team played unselfish, patient ball, resulting in some easier buckets.

“We did and I think we went away from it,” Kirkindoff said. “My message to them before the game was that your main focus is to remain focused. I think we lost focus within that time (in the second half). In order for us to be a good team, we can’t do that.”

Fouls were a large influence on the outcome, as the Bulldogs went to the line for 15 attempts in the fourth period alone.

Tra Thomas led the game with 28 points, doing the most damage in the fourth quarter with 10. Michael Kenney scored 10 and Javarion Williams did the same, but Williams was equally impactful disrupting Timberwolves’ ball handlers. Bryce Lawrence had seven points after coming up from the junior varsity.

The win is the first in league play for the ‘Dogs, but Kirkindoff believes his team will improve in the second half of district to become a postseason factor.

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