By Brandon Speck
MEMPHIS – Baldwyn’s reserves played like the pros Friday afternoon on the Grizzlies’ FedExForum floor, as the Bearcats beat Wheeler 61-38.
Baldwyn (3-0) was without three starters – Duke Upshaw and Martel Brown with football and Romaro Crump out for Thanksgiving responsibilities – but got a game-high 25 points from freshman Felix Hayes.
“We did not have a kid that started in the state championship on the floor today,” Baldwyn coach Jason McKay said. “I’m very proud of our kids.”
Hayes and junior big man Chet Barber scored 14 of Baldwyn’s 18 first-quarter points. Sophomore point guard Conner McKay had the other four. Barber finished with 13, McKay 12.
A more aggressive Barber took a nifty assist from McKay from halfcourt in the first quarter. McKay’s jumper from the wing gave the Bearcats at 38-28 lead in the third quarter.
Wheeler (2-3) got 14 points from Brandon Erby 14, 12 from Cameron McGaha and 10 from Logan McBrayer. McGaha scored 10 in the first quarter, two 3-pointers.
It was still defense-first Baldwyn. Wheeler trailed 18-17 after a quarter, but scored only 21 the rest of the way.
“We could have found every way in the world to have an excuse,” McKay said. “That’s not what we do.”
Scoring picked up in the third for the Bearcats, capped by Ryan Wesson’s buzzer-beater for a 46-30 lead.
Wheeler was without starting point guard and top defender Hunter Brown, out at least another week after knee surgery.
“If we ever get him back, we’ll be a whole lot better,” Wheeler coach Guyton Wilkerson said. “We just didn’t play good defense and rebound at all. I think we were just excited playing in here.”
(G) Baldwyn 63, Wheeler 42: Timaya Stewart scored a game-high 23 points for Baldwyn. LaJayla Turnage added 11. For Wheeler, Alyiah Miller had 15, Marianna Coats 12.