By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
BALDWYN – Baldwyn’s players quickly knew where Thursday’s North Mississippi Class 2A tournament quarterfinals against Coahoma County was headed, but they never lost their focus in an 82-47 blowout victory.
“We always talk about staying focused and how you’ve got to keep playing,” said Baldwyn freshman guard Conner McKay, who scored 15 points.
McKay’s father, Bearcats coach Jason McKay, was pleased with his team’s attention to detail.
“That was Baldwyn basketball tonight,” he said. “I saw great enthusiasm from our players.
“We had guys taking charges. We had guys diving on the floor. We had guys, maybe over-passing the ball, and guys making free throws. Everybody did what they had to do. We need the same effort tomorrow night.”
The Bearcats (28-3) play S.V. Marshall, a 51-44 winner against West Bolivar, at 6 p.m. tonight in a semifinals rematch of last year’s state championship game, a contest Baldwyn lost.
Tonight’s winner advances to Saturday’s North championship game and is assured of a return trip to state tourney in Jackson.
The loser goes home.
“Our kids had the right mental approach,” Jason McKay said. “It’s one-and-done now. We’ve got to wash this off tonight and come back with the same focus.”
The Bearcats roared to a 24-4 lead in first quarter behind 10 points from Duke Upshaw and 3-pointers from Tevin Linsey and McKay. A 3-point play by Martell Brown capped the quarter.
Coahoma County (14-13) went 2 of 12 from the field in the opening quarter and never recovered.
Baldwyn led 49-15 at halftime.
“We weren’t able to get in any rhythm,” losing coach Tarrus Metcalf said. “They slowed us up offensively. We got frustrated when we couldn’t get into our sets.
“Baldwyn’s got a good team.”
Upshaw led the Bearcats with 19 points, Linsey added 14 and Brown had 11. James Evans paced Coahoma County with 10.