Bulldogs win battle of contenders

By Brandon Speck | Monroe Journal

ABERDEEN – In a battle of title contenders, Class 3A Aberdeen handed uninspired Class 2A Baldwyn a 58-44 loss Saturday night at Roy E. Hazzle Gymnasium.
Aberdeen (20-4) entered the game as the Clarion Ledger’s top-ranked Class 3A team. Baldwyn (21-3) was No. 4 in 2A.
“We did not compete four quarters tonight,” Baldwyn coach Jason McKay said. “When you don’t compete four quarters against a team like Aberdeen…it’s kind of amazing we only got beat 14.”
The Bulldogs led by as many as 24 in the second quarter and held up-tempo Baldwyn to 18 first-half points.
Aberdeen took any wind Baldwyn may have had out of its sails, storming ahead in the second quarter, pressuring on the defensive end and scoring 10 straight in a 20-8 quarter to take a 38-18 lead at the half.
“Anytime you make a run like that on that caliber a team, the coach is not going to be pleased. I can feel Coach McKay on that,” Aberdeen coach Roy Hazzle said. “But our guys kept punching back and didn’t let up.”
Baldwyn got within 13 in the third on a pair of free throws from Romaro Crump and outscored Aberdeen 18-11 in the quarter. That’s a close as it got though.
Aberdeen got 18 from Shedrick Fair, five straight to open the second quarter. Brandon Hodges added 10 points and six rebounds.
“We came out and got a big lead and never let up,” said Aberdeen senior Elliot Johnson. “We’ve got to keep our head on straight, not cocky but confident.”
Johnson scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in his second game back from an ankle sprain.
Baldwyn leading scorer, eighth-grader Duke Upshaw was held to seven points. The Bearcats’ lone double-digit scorer was Ian Burress with 14.
Aberdeen went ahead 37-13 in the second quarter on a 3-pointer from Jeffery Riddle. Ken McCoy had five straight in the run.
“I told the guys prior to the game that this was a measuring stick for us as we enter the playoffs,” Hazzle said. “That’s a great team we played tonight, a big win. We squandered a few chances but kept that intensity.”
(G) Baldwyn 66 Aberdeen 32: The Lady Bearcats improved to 14-8 on the season behind 20 points from Olivia Beene and 16 from Ayana Ragin. Raven Love scored 11 to pace Aberdeen (4-15), which trailed 31-11 at the half.