By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW ALBANY – If there was ever a high school player that lived up to his hype and then some, Okolona’s D.J. Gardner would fit the billing on Saturday night.
The 6-foot-6 Mississippi State commitment dropped in 45 points, 28 in the second half, to power the Chieftains (15-7) past the Daily Journal’s ninth-ranked Ripley Tigers, 85-57.
In what was to be the Acie Vance vs. D.J. Gardner show, Gardner clearly had the upper hand, but Vance had a pretty good game himself, scoring 27 points for the Tigers (14-7).
“In the first half, I wasn’t feeling it. I couldn’t hit anything,” Gardner said of his 17-point first half. “In the second half, I got kind of hot.”
Gardner drilled four 3-pointers in the second half, put an exclamation point on the game with a dunk in the final two minutes and left the court to an ovation with 39 seconds left.
He later signed an autograph for a fan following his post-game interview.
– Mooreville 72, East Union 51:
Behind Parris Jeans’ 27 game-high points, the Mooreville blew out East Union, 72-51. Quadzing Rogers added 13 in the win.
Trey Barkley led East Union with 16 points, while Kirk Fryar and Chris Tables chipped in 14 and 12, respectively.
– Houlka 66, West Union 51: Corey Pulliam scored a game-high 16 while Kyndrell Atkinson added 13 to lead Houlka.
Kyle Taylor and Chase Taylor each led West Union with 11, and teammate Zak Jumper also reached double figures with 10.
West Union led 27-25 at halftime before Houlka came back to take a 45-38 lead entering the fourth.
– Corinth 77, Myrtle 57: The Daily Journal’s fourth-ranked Warriors broke open an 18-17 game after the first quarter and cruised to a 20-point victory.
Steven Polk scored a game-high 20 points and Deonta Herman and Darius Gaines each had 12. Jazz Garner added 10. Robert Montgomery led Myrtle with 19.
– Durant 87, Ingomar 40: In a rematch of last year’s MHSAA Class 1A state title game, Durant avenged its championship game loss.
Theodore Haynes scored a game-high 27 while Tevin Marzette added 15. Wesley Jumper (18) and Steven Foster (12) led the Falcons’ offense.
– Mendenhall 59, Olive Branch 57: Jared Tillman’s and Derrel Robertson’s 21 points each paved the way for Mendenhall.
D’Arthur Cowan tallied a team-high 19 for the Conquistadors and teammate Jaylon Moore added 11.
– Hillcrest, Ala. 64, Rosa Fort 56: The Patriots took a one-point lead with four minutes to play in the third quarter and turned it into a 10-point advantage for most of the fourth.
Jalen Houston scored a game-high 18, Reggie Spencer added 13 and Deandre Gamble and Laron Moore each had 10 for Hillcrest.
Labarron Collins scored a team-high 13 for the Lions, with Benardrick McKinney chipping in 12.