Rock-a-chaws get physical on Bulldogs

By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – New Albany has Moses Kingsley, but St. Stanislaus has Daniel Grieves, Davon Hayes and Johnny Zuppardo. So when factoring in length, explosiveness and quickness, the Rock-a-Chaws had the edge.
Those three attributes were on full display in the second half of Monday evening’s MHSAA Class 4A state semifinal game, as the Rock-a-Chaws sprinted to a 73-66 victory at the Mississippi Coliseum.
“They’re very, very physical, and the teams like that are the ones that have giving us problems all year,” said New Albany coach Brad Gray, whose team ended its 2010-11 campaign at 28-5. “We’re not used to it.”
Kingsley, a 6-foot-9 center, almost had a triple-double against the Rock-a-Chaws (33-2), scoring 10 points, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking eight shots in 24 minutes.
Devonte Berry led the Bulldogs with 16 points; Kareem Brown and Malcolm Spears added 14 and 13, respectively.
But St. Stanislaus’ big three of Grieves, Hayes and Zuppardo took over in the second half. Grieves, a 6-foot-5 Air Force signee, scored 17 of his game-high 26 points in the final 16 minutes, while Hayes, a 6-5 Arkansas State signee, tallied 13 of his 17 during the final two quarters.
Several of their buckets came on dunks.
Another Arkansas State commitment, the 6-foot-8 Zuppardo, led all scorers in the first half with 11 points before ending up with 16 on the night.
“We made a good run there in the first half,” said Gray, whose team led by as many as six in the second quarter. “We led most of the first half. We were down one (28-27) at halftime. I thought we did a good job of guarding them.
“In the second half they kind of got in our heads a little bit, got us rattled and kind of got us out of our game. We kind of lost our composure a couple times.”
The Rock-a-Chaws started the second half on a 13-4 run, highlighted by three and-1s, to go up 10, at 41-31, with 3:50 to play in the third.
St. Stanislaus upped their lead to 13 (49-36) within the opening minute of the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs would rally to pull within two in the final 40 seconds.
Grieves, however, finished things off from the charity stripe with six free throws and then added a dunk two seconds before the final horn.
n Game summary, Page 2B