By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
MOOREVILLE – Austin Timms was slightly concerned Tuesday night when fellow Mooreville starters Brandon Moore and Kelsey Scott were absent from pregame warmups.
“I was just ready to play and they weren’t showing up and I didn’t know what to think,” said Timms. “I was just like ‘Man, where they at?’”
Moore and Scott arrived just in time for tipoff and the Troopers continued on to a 68-58 victory over Byhalia in the first round of the MHSAA Class 3A North Mississippi Tournament.
Mooreville earned the right to host the remainder of the tournament beginning Thursday. The Troopers, No. 2 in the Journal’s rankings, have a 4 p.m. rematch with Booneville.
The two late-starting guards did not see action against the Indians until the second quarter. Scott finished with 13 points, nine of which came in the fourth, but Moore connected on only one bucket the entire game.
Devon Bartlett and Kelton Kingsley combined for nine first-period points as the Troopers (27-4) focused on the post early.
Ben Seay and Scott knocked down 3-pointers in the second to help Mooreville edge ahead 25-21 at halftime.
Byhalia (13-18) stayed close and forced eight lead changes and four ties. Pat Stevenson connected with Dandrick Fifer for a nice alley-oop that knotted the score at 30-30 with 4:44 to play in the third.
The Troopers began to slowly pull away from that point though. A nice roll off a Timms short jumper capped a quick 7-0 run that increased Mooreville’s lead to 39-32.
Treys by Timms and Kingsley gave the Troopers its biggest advantage of the game, 50-38, to end the quarter. Timms had 12 of his 18 points in the period.
“We shot the ball well in the third quarter when we had a little run,” said Mooreville coach Jeff Tally. “Early we played tight, just didn’t move well and didn’t play our normal basketball.”
Stevenson led Byhalia with 17 points and Kingsley added 15 for the Troopers.