By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
BALDWYN – When Baldwyn basketball coach Jason McKay preaches to his players, his roundball sermons almost always focus on “team.”
He’s made the Bearcats believers.
Baldwyn, behind four players scoring in double figures, rolled past visiting Eupora 86-43 Tuesday night in the opening round of the North Mississippi 2A tournament.
The victory clinched the Bearcats (26-4) the host role for the remainder of the tournament, which resumes Thursday with four quarterfinal games – one of those is the 4 p.m. game featuring Baldwyn playing Calhoun City.
The semifinals are scheduled for Friday and the championship game is Saturday.
Marcell Lucas, a senior post player, paced the Bearcats with 20 points against the Eagles (12-12).
“Marcell Lucas does a good job for us,” McKay said. “He’s a great player, a tremendous kid, but he knows it’s about playing great team ball.”
McKay rattled off his starters: Lucas, Devin Lindsey, Ian Burress, Reggie Patterson and Dee Gates. Patterson scored 14 points while Burress and Lindsey dropped in 10 apiece in the win.
“You could name them all,” McKay said. “Team ball is playing together on both ends. We did that tonight.
“Eupora has a lot of athletic ability and I didn’t think we came out with our normal amount of energy. Our kids picked it up as the game progressed.”
Burress sank a couple of 3-pointers in the first quarter to help the Bearcats take an 18-11 first-quarter lead.
Eupora rallied to cut the score to 22-18 with 4 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first half on a 3-pointer by Deshawn Starks.
The Bearcats answered in a big way, going on a 14-0 run to roll to a 36-20 halftime lead. Lucas and Patterson had two field goals each in the spurt, which was capped with a 3-point bomb by Tyler Stubbs.
Baldwyn outscored Eupora 26-9 in the third quarter to advance. Reserves from both teams played the fourth quarter.
McKay’s next chat with his players will center on Calhoun City. “We’re 0-0,” he said. “We’ve got a huge challenge in Calhoun City. I know they will get after you.”