“It’s no secret” the Myrtle boys plan to turn up the heat in tonight’s 1A title clash.
By Gene Phelps
Coldwater knows what’s coming from Myrtle in today’s MHSAA Class 1A state championship game at the Mississippi Coliseum.
The Cougars are going to be pressed.
Myrtle coach Jonathan Ashley believes in sticking with what works, and the press helped his Hawks defeat Coldwater, 63-55, two weeks ago in the North Mississippi title game.
“It’s no secret what we’re going to do,” Ashley said. “We’ll see if it was luck, or if we’ve found something that will work for us.”
Today’s tipoff between the Hawks (26-12) and Cougars (23-8) is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. The game will be televised live by Mississippi Public Broadcasting.
In the only other state championship game involving an area team, the H.W. Byers girls will defend their Class 2A state title against Kemper County at 1 p.m. Friday.
Kemper County (28-8) upset North top seed New Site earlier this week to reach the championship game while Byers (33-4) defeated Scott Central in the semifinals.
Press your luck
Ashley noticed – after losing twice to the Cougars this season – that they struggled when the pressure was turned up.
“In the finals of the division (3-1A) tournament they were beating us 15 or 16 points,” Ashley said. “We pressed and cut it to three points, but they eventually beat us nine.”
Coldwater has high-scoring Dominick Major in its lineup. The 6-foot-5 Horn Lake transfer scored 46 against the Hawks in one meeting this season. Nick Coppage, a talented 6-6 heavyweight, provides the strength inside.
“Our big guy, Jimel Judon, is 6-4 and weighes 220, 225, and he’s dwarfed by that guy,” Ashley noted. “(Coppage) is a force. He blocks shots and moves his feet well.
“If it turns into a physical war, they’ve got the bigger players.”
That’s why Myrtle plans to apply the pressure and hopefully take away some of Coldwater’s size advantage with its quicker lineup.
The Hawks’ attack is led by eighth grade point guard Robert Montgomery, senior guard Justin Jordan and 6-2 David Wilson, who led the Hawks with 14 points in their 61-52 state semifinals win against Calhoun City.
Jordan, who missed nearly six weeks with a broken bone in his foot, returned to the lineup against Calhoun City. When he was injured, he was averaging a team-best 18 points per game.
He scored six points in his return.
“He’s going to play a role,” Ashley said. “I don’t know if it’s realistic to think he can come back and be our leading scorer. It takes days to get back in the flow.
“Whatever he can give us is a plus.”