Toppers break division with win

CJ-0116-baskhst-2CThe Houston Hilltoppers snagged their first district win on the road Jan. 11, defeating Caledonia 80-53.

Anquan Russell led for the Toppers with 21 points, followed by Sharone Wright with 19. Chris Jones had 16 and Caleb Morgan posted 12 in the win.

Lafayette tops Toppers

ECRU – Montreal Nabors and Brandon Mack’s 15 points led three players in double figures as the Lafayette County Commodores used a strong second half to defeat Houston 62-47 Saturday in the Image Screen Printing’s Kings of the Court Showdown at North Pontotoc High School.


“I’d like to commend the team because they gave a full effort and played hard the whole way through and that’s all you can ask as a coach,” said Houston head coach Bruce Franks. “We made some turnovers and made some mistakes, but the team that was on the floor gave us the best opportunity to win that we had.”


Houston saw Lafayette take a 7-0 lead before Anaquan Russell was able to get the Toppers on the board with a lay-up and free throw to make it a 7-3 game at the 4:29 in first quarter.


Russell added a jumped to keep the Toppers within three, but the Commodores went on a 4-0 run to take a 12-5 lead before a jumper by Chris Thornton in the closing seconds made it a 12-7 game at the end of the first quarter.


Houston made it a 14-10 game after back-to-back basketball by Russell in the second quarter, but Lafayette pulled away to a 10-point lead after a 8-0 run with 3:15 left in the first half.


The Toppers answered with a 9-0 run to close the quarter led by seven-straight points by Javarius Jones to make it a 22-21 game in favor of Lafayette at the break.


“I was constantly telling the guys to keep giving me all they had,” said Franks. “They got a little bit winded towards the end of the first half, but Javarius did a good job just digging down to give us a strong push to close the half.”


Lafayette opened the second half with a 7-0 run before an acrobatic lay-up by Russell could get the Toppers their first points of the third quarter, but another big run helped the Commodores push their way out to their second 10-point lead of the game on a thunderous dunk by Brandon Mack with 1:01 to play in the quarter.


“Lafayette is so athletic,” Franks said. “They did a good job of picking up on the changes we tried to make in the second half and were able to start getting some run outs that kind of turned things around for them.”


Russell’s late basket to end the third made it a 39-31 deficit for the Toppers going into the final frame, but Houston couldn’t manage to string together a run to make a significant dent in the Commodores’ 10-point edge in the fourth.


“They are pretty good stationary shooting team, but when you play them man-to-man they’re really good one-on-one players,” said Franks. “They can get to the rim and are willing to make an extra pass that makes them a good team. We didn’t have the size and the depth it takes to match the type of physicality they were able to throw at us all day.”


Houston was without starting center Chris Jones, who is averaging 19.2 points and over 10 rebounds per game.


“If Chris would have been here he would have made a difference in the game, but the way I look at it our mistake was not matching them physically or doing a good enough job blocking out for them to be able to get the second and third shots,” Franks commented.


Russell led Houston with a game-high 20 points with Javarius Jones adding 13, Chris Thornton 8, Sharone Wright 4, Jaquavis Brownlee 2 while Joshua Barry had 10 for Lafayette.


The Lady Toppers will rejoin the Toppers as they resume division play by hosting Noxubee County on Friday. This week will also see the Toppers playing in-county, hosting the Houlka Wildcats Tuesday and playing at Houlka Saturday.

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