16 teams battle at 2nd annual Tangle on the Trail
By Jonathan Wise, Sports Writer
PONTOTOC- The Pontotoc Rotary Club’s 2nd annual Tangle on the Trail got a huge dose of last minute schedule shakeup due to winter weather that affected parts of Mississippi and the Mid-South, but the stands were full all day long on Saturday as fans braved sub-freezing temperatures to watch a high quality slate of hoops action.
Six of the eight games ending up underwent some changes, including one change on Saturday morning when Velma Jackson pulled out of coming. Calhoun City took their place at the last minute to play Oxford. “A big thanks goes out to the Rotary Club. They are the ones that put this on,” said Pontotoc boys head coach Chris Vandiver. “(Calhoun City head coach) Darrin Coffey really saved us today. He was able to get his team together on short notice when we had a team drop out that late. So a big thanks to him and all the teams that came to fill in today. Even in perfect weather I don’t know if we could have had a better turnout than we did today.”
Pontotoc (G) 50 Red Bay (Alabama) 37
In the day’s opening game a short-handed Pontotoc girls squad dealt defending Alabama Class 2A state champion Red Bay a loss for the second time this season. Moved into the matchup against Pontotoc late due to Starkville not being able to make the trip, the Lady Tigers battled the Lady Warriors in a close contest until PHS pulled away in the 3rd for an eventual 50-37 victory. With junior standout Jatyjia Jones missing the game due to an injury, Lady Warrior senior Jamira Davis filled the gap with 17 points, including 4 of 6 shooting from 3-point range. Three of those downtown baskets came in the decisive 3rd quarter, which saw the Lady Warriors outscore the Lady Tigers 20-10 to take control.
“I knew we were without our leading scorer, and being a senior I knew I needed to step up,” Davis said. “Jamira played well today. I don’t know if she has the green light to shoot those all the time,” Pontotoc coach Bill Russell said, then laughed. “But if she is going to make them like she did today she will. That’s what you look for in a senior. She gave us a big game.”
Davis was awarded MVP of the game by the tournament. PHS (12-4) started out of the gates strong with 7-0 spurt. Davis scored on a layup, Mary Kate Butler drilled a three, and Mackenzie Lane scored down low. The Lady Warriors led by as many as six in the opening period after a three from Emily Walker at the 3:22, but a jumper and later a three at the 1st quarter buzzer from Southern Miss commit Allie Kennedy pulled Red Bay to within 16-13. The Lady Warriors again went up by as many as six in the 2nd after Lane third and fourth buckets on the inside from Lane, but they couldn’t pull away. Red Bay’s converted a 3-point play and knocked down a pair of free throws to cut the deficit again to three, 21-18, at halftime.
In the 3rd Pontotoc got four quick baskets to put themselves in the driver’s seat. Point guard Shea Buggs scored on a pair of drives, and Amber McCoy drove to the basket for the first of five second half buckets. Davis then hit the first of her three 3rd quarter shots from downtown. Davis’s second trey at the 1:51 mark gave the Lady Warriors their first double digit advantage, and her third seconds later made it 39-25. Pontotoc went on to carry a 13-edge in the 4th and lead as many as 16.
In addition to Davis’s 17, Mackenzie Lane compiled a double double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Amber McCoy also scored 10, all in the second half.
Red Bay was short handed as well, as the Lady Warriors played without starting post player and North Alabama signee Darby Madden.
“We really missed Darby today, but one their better players didn’t play today either,” ” said Red Bay coach Donnie Roberts. “Number 15 (Davis) was supposed to do what she did today. She made a big difference.
“This was great practice for us. The quality of basketball in North Mississippi is outstanding, and we are trying to win a (Alabama) state championship.”
Earlier in the week the Lady Warriors defeated New Albany 45-40.
New Hope 57, Pontotoc (B) 53
In the nightcap the host Warriors took on New Hope in the only that didn’t change from the original schedule, with the Warriors falling 57-53. The Warriors and Trojans battled toe in toe throughout the 1st half.
The Warriors jumped out a 7-0 lead with a three from Jacob Ginn and two layups from Ty Jones. New Hope responded with a 7-0 lead to tie it up. JaQuante Bell scored on a putback, Kyree Fields hit a three, and Terryonte Thomas hit a jumper. The battle continued with Austin Morphis putting the Warriors up 16-14 at the end of the first quarter on a fast break layup, and New Hope scoring seven of the final nine points on two inside buckets from Bell and another three from Fields to lead 25-20.
However, the third quarter was the difference. After PHS’s Jerrick Ray hit a three to cut it 25-23 in the first minute, the Trojans ripped off a 19-6 run to established a 44-29 lead. New Hope had a 46-32 lead heading into the final period after a basket from 3-point range by Pontotoc’s Miller was answered by a jumper from Tyler Stevensen in the closing seconds. P
ontotoc’s rallied in the 4th quarter behind Jones’ offense. The senior scored 13 straight points for the Warriors as they cut it to 52-48 with 2:16 to go. Stevensen hit another jump shot on the next trip downcourt, and Pontotoc would eventually get it to a 3-point game with a Jones free throw and then a putback from John Fleming with 43.8 seconds to go, but two free throws from Fields with 23 seconds made it a two-possession edge that the Warriors’ couldn’t overcome. Jones finished with 29 points for the Warriors. Thomas, who was a teammate of Jones’ this past summer as a member of the Memphis Bulls, finished with 24 for New Hope.
“We thought we started out the game strong, but the 3rd quarter was just bad,” coach Chris Vandiver said. “We were really stagnant offensively, no execution. New Hope is a good team, but I know our team is capable of playing better, and we are going to have to if we are going to compete in our division.
“I don’t think their size difference was a big issue. We had more offensive rebounds than they did. I thought we did a good job sagging off the ball and in our trap, especially in the 1st half.”
On Tuesday the Warriors defeated New Albany 82-59.
Besides the two host team’s action, the schedule features a host of exciting action. Olive Branch’s girls defeated Booneville 64-41, Ingomar’s girls beat New Site 56-46, Choctaw Central’s girls defeated previously unbeaten Lafayette 59-48, and Tupelo’s girls brought down undefeated Coahoma County 58-49.
On the boy’s side, Tupelo defeated also previously unbeaten Coahoma County 54-47, and Oxford defeated Calhoun City 85-71.
Oxford’s Jarkel Joiner was named Overall MVP of the tournament after an impressive 52-point performance, including several thunderous dunks that quickly made the rounds in North Mississippi social media circles.
The boys 1st team also included the Warriors’ Jones, Calhoun City’s Ladavius Draine, New Hope’s Terryonte Thomas, and Tupelo’s Jaylan Copeland. Davis made the 1st team for the Lady Warriors, along with Olive Branch’s Katie Blackmon, Ingomar’s Lauren Thompson, Choctaw Central’s Darien Tubby and Tupelo’s Alayjah Sherer.
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