By Jeff Eubanks
The Water Valley High School basketball teams saw action twice this past week playing host to the Charleston Tigers and Senatobia Warriors. The girl’s team was able to go a perfect 2-0, while the boy’s split at 1-1.
Due to bad weather, the Charleston game scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 5 was canceled and the Blue Devils were forced to make the game up Thursday, Feb. 7.
The Lady Blue Devils, like they have done most of the season, were able to get off to a hot start scoring 27 points in the first quarter against the Lady Tigers. The defensive pressure applied by the Lady Devils created turnovers that turned into lay-ups and easy baskets. Senior Keke Fondon led the scoring charge of the first quarter with 14 points, as she had her team ahead 27-12 after the opening quarter of play.
The scoring kept on coming in the second. The Lady Blue Devils outscored the Lady Tigers 19-5 in the second quarter and were able to go into halftime with a 46-17 lead. Fondon led all scorers in the first half with 22 points. Senior Miranda Phillips was able to add seven. W. Drain was the leading scorer for the Lady Tigers at the half with seven points.
With the Lady Blue Devils comfortably in command, Coach Shayne Linzy elected to play many of his reserves in the second half.
The Lady Tigers were able to score 27 points in the second half, but was still not enough as the Lady Blue Devils got the win 64-44.
Fondon was the game’s leading scorer with 22 points. Senior Brittney Weekly contributed 11 points to go with her great defensive play. M. Phillips finished with nine points. Drain and J. Johnson were the leading scorers for Charleston with 13 points each.
The win improved the Lady Blue Devils record to 25-4.
The hot start that the Lady Blue Devils got off to did not carry over to the boy’s team.
The Blue Devils came out very flat. Three first quarter timeouts by Coach John Sherman never woke the team up. The Tigers were able to capitalize on the turnovers and sloppy play of the Devils by jumping out to a 20-5 first quarter lead. The Blue Devils went into halftime down 31-15.
Charleston’s A. Hudson was the game’s leading scorer at halftime with 19 points. Junior A.J. Folson led the Blue Devils at the half with six points.
The Blue Devils were never able to get in any kind of rhythm in the second half. The Blue Devils generally come out strong in the third, but was held to only eight points. A 22 point performance in the second half was not enough for the Blue Devils to get the win, as they went down 58-37.
Hudson finished as the game’s leading scorer with 23 points. Folson was the leading scorer for Water Valley with nine points. Junior Corey Carr also added eight points.
The loss put the Blue Devils record to 14-13.
Friday, Feb. 8 was senior night. The Blue Devils basketball teams have a combined five seniors: Keisha Carr, Keke Fondon, Brittney Weekly, Miranda Phillips, Jonathan Nevol.
Both squads wanted its leaders to go out on top at home against the Senatobia Warriors.
The Lady Blue Devils were not able to get out to the quick start that they are accustomed to. Instead, they found themselves down 21-12 at the end of the first quarter.
With a little less than five minutes to play in the second quarter Fondon did what a senior is supposed to do, she stepped up. Stepped up and took charge that is, swinging the game’s momentum entirely in the Lady Blue Devils direction. The Lady Devils were able to close out the quarter on a 16-8 run and went into halftime leading 36-33.
“That charge picked our intensity up. We are not the type of team that takes charges, especially someone like Keke who is not big enough to take that kind of hit,” said head coach of the Lady Blue Devils, Shayne Linzy.
“Sacrificing for the team, that’s how you win ballgames. That’s how you win championships,” said Linzy.
Fondon led all scorers at halftime with 11 points. Weekly and freshman Ashley Phillips each added nine. Senior Sabrena Reed was the leading scorer for the Lady Warriors with 10 points.
The third quarter definitely did not have as fast a pace as the first two quarters. The Lady Blue Devils managed to score only eight points in the third quarter, but were leading 44-38 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Warriors were able to take the lead 51-48 with less than three minutes in the fourth quarter. Once again a senior stepped up. Weekly’s defensive pressure sparked a couple of turnovers that lead to five straight unanswered points by the senior. The Lady Blue Devils were able to pull out the win 55-51.
Four of the Lady Blue Devils starting-five finished in double figures. Fondon made the most of senior night. She was the games leading scorer with 16 points and also dished out eight assists and snagged five steals. Weekly finished with 12 points and pulled down 8 rebounds. M. Phillips and A. Phillips each totaled 10 points. M. Phillips was the team’s leading rebounder with 12. Reed was the Lady Warriors leading scorer with 13 points. Senior Portia Turner and sophomore Kinesha Davis each scored 11 points.
“We are peaking at the right time and really starting to play good basketball. We wanted to make sure that we got better by the end of the game and we did that,” Linzy added.
The Blue Devils did not get off to the start that they had hoped, especially after the showing against Charleston. Despite numerous turnovers, the Blue Devils were down by only two at halftime by a score of 15-13.
“We got knocked down last night (Thursday). These guys picked themselves up off the mat and came out and played to their capability,” says head coach of the Blue Devils John Sherman.
Freshman Tavi Toles really picked the Blue Devils off the mat in the third. His three-for-three three-point shooting led the Devils to a 14 point third quarter and a 27-22 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Warriors managed to pull within two points late in the fourth quarter, but the Devils answered with a 5-0 run to close out the last minute of the game, as they got the victory 40-33.
“I really liked the way we came out and played after getting beat last night (Thursday). Last night showed us what can happen if we don’t play. Tonight showed us what can happen when we do play,” Sherman said.
Toles led all scorers with 16 points. Weekly added seven points and three steals. Folson led the team in rebounding with eight and also scored six points. Sophomore Kentrell Bowen was the leading scorer for the Warriors with nine points.
Both teams were able to finish their regular season with a winning record. The Lady Blue Devils ended with a 26-4 overall record with a perfect 5-0 record in the division. The Blue Devils finished with an overall record of 15-13 with a 3-2 record in the division.
Next action for both teams will be in the division tournament which is being played at Hatley. The Blue Devils took the court at presstime Tuesday against Hatley at 5:30 p.m. A win will force the Blue Devils to play again on Thursday, Feb.14 against an opponent and at a time that is to be determined. The Lady Blue Devils will play the winner of the Hatley versus Bruce game Thursday, Feb. 14 at 4 p.m.
Please come out and support your Water Valley Blue Devils as they start their march through the division tournament.