Baldwyn Bearcats cruise past Okolona Chieftains

By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal

BALDWYN – Teams with an eye toward a trophy need their engine running smoothly on all cylinders starting this week.
The Baldwyn Bearcats overcame a third-quarter sputter on Thursday, finishing in cruise control with a 66-47 victory over the Okolona Chieftains in semifinal action of the Division 1-2A tournament.
“We didn’t come out in the third quarter with the same kind of energy we had in the first half,” Baldwyn coach Jason McKay said. “But Ian Burress does a great job of keeping things together for us on the court when things are not going good.”
After moving to a 33-22 halftime lead, Baldwyn (23-4), seeded No. 1 in the tournament, fell victim to a 13-1 scoring run by Okolona to begin the third quarter. Alex Clark, Lamarcus Thomas opened that spurt with a pair of baskets each, followed by a pair of field goals by Denevan Ivy which gave the Chieftains a 35-34 lead.
With strong guard play led by Burress, Baldwyn eventually contained the Okolona run, with Dee Gates hitting a pair of 3-pointers late in the period that gave Baldwyn a 42-41 edge entering the final quarter.
“We’re usually good for a spurt or two a night,” McKay said. “If our defensive energy is right.”
The Baldwyn defense was right in the fourth period as the Bearcats opened the period on a 22-2 run that left little doubt on the scoreboard.
Gates and Lindsey were tops in scoring for Baldwyn with 21 points each, while Lamarcus Thomas hit 21 for Okolona.
(G) New Site 75, Hamilton 13: The girls No. 1 seed showed off an ultra-stingy defense in this semifinal matchup.
New Site led 50-5 at the half.
With balanced scoring, Shelby Stricklen and Grave Elliot scored 10 each to lead New Site (23-4).
“Even when we went down to the last sub, we were playing hard, doing the things we have to do,” said New Site coach Byron Sparks. “The kids know what they’re playing for.”
(G) Baldwyn 57, Hatley 56: Baldwyn’s Olivia Beene hit the game-winning shot after Hatley’s Katie Beth Worthy had made two free throws with 4.6 seconds left to give her squad the lead.
Ayana Ragin led Baldwyn with 25, and Worthy hit 20 for Hatley.