By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
BOONEVILLE – Shannon Red Raiders head coach Cedric Brim said he had a simple message at the half Saturday for his squad:
“Just keep playing.”
The delivery of that message must have been pretty emphatic as his Raiders recovered from a 9-point halftime deficit to get past the North Pontotoc Vikings 62-51 in action at the Booneville Kiwanis Classic at Northeast Community College.
“I know we had some days off, but we weren’t playing that good of defense,” Brim said. “We played better defense in the second half, getting our hands on the ball and getting in position.”
North Pontotoc (8-6) had played a solid first half, moving to a 34-25 lead.
But Shannon (10-2) came out of the intermission on an 8-1 run, with Denarious Smith getting two field goals. Shannon eventually took the lead on two Rocquis Coleman free throws, and Coleman finished the third quarter with a drive and basket with 1 second left in the period for a 44-41 lead.
“We played like we were having fun in the first half, creating pressure and controlling the boards,” North Pontotoc coach Chris Petit said. “The second half was a total reversal, and it was like two totally different teams.
“I’ve been saying all year that we’re beating ourselves.”
North Pontotoc stayed close as late as 48-47 with 5 minutes, 49 seconds to play on a Marcus Green drive in the lane. But four points by Sean Watkins helped to push the Shannon lead to 54-47. The Vikings could not significantly dent the margin the rest of the way.
Coleman tossed in 27 points to lead the Raiders offense. with Murphy Daniel scoring 14 to lead the Vikings.
“We’re playing all right, but we can always play better,” Brim said. “If we can get in rhythm and play better defense, it will help initiate our offense.”
North Pontotoc led 14-9 after the first quarter.
Shannon plays again on Saturday at New Hope against West Point.
(B) Biggersville 73, H.W. Byers 53: A solid first half was reinforced by a big third quarter as the defending Class 1A champs pulled away for the win.
Daniel Simmons led the Biggersville offense with 21. Biggersville held a 39-28 halftime lead, and a 66-38 advantage after three quarters.