By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW SITE – Tyler Benjamin scored 10 points Tuesday night in New Site’s 71-43 loss to Ashland in the opening round of the Division 1-2A tournament.
The Royals’ junior guard worked for all 10 of them.
“It wasn’t easy,” said Benjamin, who came into the game averaging 19.5 points. “We tried to pick and roll. Our shots just didn’t go in for us.”
Ashland (15-10), which used its quick, stifling man-to-man defense to advance to Thursday’s semifinals against Hickory Flat, also earned a coveted berth in next week’s North Mississippi tournament with the victory.
Ted Parker scored 27 points and Darius Dukes added 21 to lead the Blue Devils.
“Defensively, we played them a little lax early on; we didn’t take them seriously,” Ashland second-year coach Kenji Wells said. “New Site got going against us a little bit and we went ahead and turned it up.”
New Site (11-16) played the Blue Devils to a 10-10 tie in the first quarter, before Dukes and Benjamin traded 3-pointers to open the second quarter.
That’s when Ashland turned up the heat and attacked the Royals’ guard-depleted lineup. The Blue Devils forced 10 turnovers during a 5-minute span to go on a 20-0 run and race to a 33-13 lead.
“We made a few bad turnovers and let them jump on us,” Benjamin said.
New Site coach Ronald Clark, who started a freshman point guard, said his opponent was too difficult to match-up against.
“We were able to play with them until they pressed us and made us turn the ball over,” he said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well like I knew we needed to.”
Damion Williams, the third of Ashland’s three experienced starters, added 15 points for the Blue Devils while Austin Caveness scored 11 for New Site, which saw its season end.
East Union played Mantachie in a late boys game. The winner will advance to Thursday’s semifinals against top-seeded Baldwyn.
– (G) Ashland 61, Mantachie 53: Alontra Tucker scored 20 points and Trenise Hampton added 16 to lead the Lady Blue Devils into Thursday’s semifinals against Walnut.