By Zach Adams/The Itawamba County Times
TREMONT – The Houlka Wildcats held off a late surge from Tremont on Friday night for a 54-48 victory in the Division 4-1A tournament championship game.
Lewis Moore led the Wildcats with 14 points as Houlka fell behind early but shut out the Eagles in the second quarter to build as much as a 13-point lead in the second half.
Ada Zolesi, who finished with 15 points, brought Tremont back late with seven points down the stretch to narrow the gap to four, but Houlka held on.
“They were putting it where they needed to and we couldn’t stop it,” Houlka coach Guy McDonald said. “They had us shut down in the first quarter but we spread it out in the second and were able to drive it on them and we were able to create some holes and some shots.”
Tremont led 16-8 after the first quarter as Carlos Badal hit a couple of shots from the perimeter and Daniel Sturtivant was active in the paint. Houlka pressed in the second, however, and completely shut down the Eagle offense.
Big shots from Moore, as well as Jesse Kelly from the perimeter allowed the Wildcats to quickly close the gap and eventually take a 7-point lead into the break.
“I think the full-court defense kind of got them out of their rhythm and they made some unforced turnovers,” said McDonald. “We were really just stopping, trapping and getting back.”
Houlka increased its lead to double digits in the third. Tremont got to within four with less than a minute to play but the Wildcats were able to hit just enough free throws to put the game away and secure the title.