By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
PONTOTOC – Just what makes Shannon so good? You can’t really look at one side of the ball, as the Red Raiders can win games playing either offensive- or defensive-minded basketball.
Red Raiders coach Cedric Brim did point to one mental factor he has noticed in this year’s team compared to previous Shannon squads.
“Just finishing down the stretch,” Brim said. “I couldn’t say that a couple years ago, we probably couldn’t finish.”
After Pontotoc cut Shannon’s lead to one point with four minutes remaining Friday, Javon Green and Lakee Westbrook made sure the Red Raiders finished.
Green and Westbrook scored 13 of Shannon’s 17 points in the final four minutes of the game to help the Red Raiders remain undefeated in Division 1-4A play with an 82-73 win at Pontotoc.
Shaq Crayton scored seven points in a row for Pontotoc, and following a turnover, dished a pass to Anthony Townsend on a fast break for a layup that cut Shannon’s lead to 65-64 with 4:11 remaining.
Green and Westbrook, who both finished with 21 points, combined to hit 9-of-12 free throws down the stretch to keep one of Shannon’s best starts in school history going.
“They’re just hard to stop,” Pontotoc coach Michael Elder said. “You can’t key in on one guy with Shannon. They’ve got four or five guys that can shoot from the perimeter.”
The Red Raiders improved to 22-1 and 9-0 inside the division. Since their lone loss of the season at Aberdeen on Nov. 18, Shannon has won 19 straight games.
Add that to a No. 2 ranking by the Clarion-Ledger in Class 4A behind Amanda Elzy, and it’s easy to see why Brim is happy, but at the same time not satisfied, with where his team is.
“We’re playing well, you know, but we can get better,” said Brim. “This was a tough environment to come play in, and I think it was a good game for us to learn some things.”
Townsend led Pontotoc (5-19, 2-7) with 21 points. Shannon visits Corinth Tuesday with the regular season 1-4A championship on the line.
(G) Pontotoc 63, Shannon 42: Quinn Ford sent her fellow seniors out in style on Senior Night, scoring 23 points to help keep the Lady Warriors undefeated (23-0, 9-0).
Cherica Meardie led Shannon (6-8, 3-6) with 13 points. Pontotoc travels to Itawamba AHS Tuesday with the girls’ 1-4A title at stake.