Houston, Okolona use defense to notch wins.

Floyd Ingram / Buy at photos.chickasawjournal.com) Houston's Jaylin Smith (3) dunks the basketball in the first quarter of the Hilltoppers game Saturday night at Okolona's LaDarrius Spears (10) looks on.

Floyd Ingram / Buy at photos.chickasawjournal.com)
Houston’s Jaylin Smith (3) dunks the basketball in the first quarter of the Hilltoppers game Saturday night at Okolona’s LaDarrius Spears (10) looks on.

By Floyd Ingram

Chickasaw Journal

OKOLONA – The Houston girls used a crushing defense to down the Lady Chieftains 78-14 and then the Okolona boys used the same strategy to defeat the Hilltoppers 63-27.

The cross-county rivalry game was played cleanly, with a minimum number of fouls by both sides, but strong defense carried the day in both games.

The Lady Hilltoppers jumped out to a 20-3 lead in the first quarter and then poured in another 20 to take a 40-9 edge into the locker room. The Houston girls then came out and scored another 30 in the third before they let everybody play.

The boys game saw Okolona hold a 29-12 advantage at the half. Houston got one basket in the third.

“We have focused a lot on defense,” said Okolona coach Arteria Clifton. “We forced a lot of turnovers and just used our big guys to lock up the basket.

“Our guys didn’t score a lot of points, and we’ll work on that,” he added. “But if we can hold teams down, we can score our points.”

Houston coach Chris Pettit had much the same philosophy in the girls game.

“We’re getting better every game and we forced a lot of turnovers tonight,” said Pettit. “If we can learn not to make turnovers, we should be pretty good.”

The gym in Okolona was packed Saturday night as Houston traveled across the creek to play a friendly game of basketball.

The Hilltoppers found the going inside tough and shot more than dozen times from three-point range. Okolona played both their big men – LaDarrius Spears and Cam Smith. Houston took their time in setting up shots and got their share of rebounds and steals.

“I’m pleased with the way we are playing right now,” said Clifton. “It was a team effort and I basically just turned them loose and told them to play smart in the second half.”

Clifton put his substitutes in when the fourth quarter started.

Spears and Smith finished the game with 10-points each and Jacorrius Stanfield led all scorers with 12.

Houston’s Jaylin Smith was the only Hilltopper in double figures with 11-points.

The Houston girls were led at the rim by Dee Dee Shephard and Aquana Brownlee with 15 points each.

Houston hosted district foe Kosciusko Tuesday and travels to Leake Central Friday for another conference matchup.

Okolona started their district slate with Winona Tuesday night and goes to Eupora on Friday and West Point on Saturday for non-district games.

Saturday’s win sent Okolona to 12-1 and Houston dropped to 3-11.

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