By Jeff Eubanks
The Water Valley High School basketball teams made it to the Region 2-2a division tournament championships this past week at Hatley High School. The girl’s team was able to pull out the win while the boy’s team fell short in the final game
The boy’s team opened up the first round of division tournament action with a win over the Hatley Tigers Tuesday, Feb. 12.
The Blue Devils were able to get an early jump on their opponents as they were up 15-7 after the first quarter. Juniors Benny Weekly and Brandon Brooks led the early scoring charge for the Devils with Weekly scoring eight and Brooks adding five in the opening quarter of play.
Sound defense allowed the Blue Devils to hold the Tigers to only four points in the second quarter. The Blue Devils went into halftime leading by a score of 23-11.
Brooks led all scorers at halftime with 11 points while Benny Weekly added eight.
The Blue Devils came out from halftime ready to put the Tigers away. Junior A. J. Folson let his presence be known by scoring 10 of the 17 points scored in the third quarter. The Devils were able to build a 19 point lead by the end of the third quarter with a score of 40-21.
The Blue Devils stingy defense continued to show its face as they held the Tigers to only four points in the game’s final quarter. The Devils were able to claim the victory by a score of 55-27.
Brooks and Folson led all scorers with 14 points. Folson was also able to pull down a team-leading seven rebounds as well. Benny Weekly was no slouch himself, scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds. He also managed to dish out a team leading seven assists. Senior Jonathan Nevol added six boards and four points as well. Chris Tartt led the Tigers in scoring with 10 points.
“I’m proud of our defensive effort. We were very sound and disciplined on the defensive end. They ran a weave to open up some driving lanes, but we were patient and disciplined and were able to hold them to 27 points,” said Coach John Sherman, head coach of the Blue Devils basketball team.
“In the last two games we have held our opponents to an average of 30 points, so I am very pleased with that,” Sherman added.
The win assured the Blue Devils a spot in the playoffs and a spot in the second round of the division tournament.
“Making the playoffs is big for our program. We are sure to play Tuesday (Feb. 19). Now we are playing for a championship and that’s what we set out to do,” the coach added.
The number one seed that the Lady Blue Devils claimed during the regular season allowed them a bye in the opening round of the tournament. Almost a week after the last regular season game, the girls came out firing on all cylinders against the Bruce Lady Trojans in the second round of the division tournament Thursday, Feb. 14.
A balanced scoring attack allowed the Lady Blue Devils to get an early 17 point lead. Senior Miranda Phillips led the way with six points, while senior Keke Fondon and juniors Judy Bounds and Keyta Thomas all had five each. The Lady Blue Devils went into the second quarter leading by a score of 23-6.
Senior Brittney Weekly was able to continue the offensive push put forth by the Lady Blue Devils. She scored 12 of the 19 points scored in the second quarter, giving the Lady Blue Devils a 42-20 lead at halftime.
“We played as well as we have all year in the first half. We played good defensively and offensively. We ran everything we needed to do to be successful,” reported Shayne Linzy, head coach of the Lady Blue Devils.
The Lady Trojans came out red hot in the third quarter. They were able to score 24 points in the third and cut the Lady Blue Devils lead down to 12 points heading into the fourth quarter by a score of 56-44.
Bruce continued to gain momentum in the fourth quarter. With the lead cut down to eight Coach Linzy called a timeout to get his girls focused. The chalk talk worked, as the girls came out of the timeout and established themselves as they had in the first half. The Lady Blue Devils never allowed the lead to slip below eight points and regained a double digit lead by the end of the game with a 68-54 final score.
“Bruce picked up their intensity and knocked down some shots in the third quarter,” Linzy said, adding that Bruce knew they were against the ropes and fought hard to close the gap.
“In the beginning of the fourth quarter the girl’s started doing things on their own and not what we had practiced,” Linzy added.
“Bruce had closed the score to eight. We called a timeout and things were explained,” Linzy said. We started doing the things that made us successful in the beginning and brought the lead back up to 14 and that’s what we won by, Linzy also said.
Brittney Weekly led all scorers with 17 points. M. Phillips scored 14 points and was able to grab a hold to 11 rebounds. Thomas was able to pull down a team leading 17 rebounds to go along with her 12 points. Fondon finished with a balanced night of nine points, 11 rebounds, and a team high eight assists.
The boy’s team was not able to get the quick start that they had hoped. In fact they found themselves down 7-0 in the opening minutes of the second round tournament play against the Ackerman Indians, but the Blue Devils were able to fight back and tie the game up 7-7 heading into the second quarter.
With less than two seconds to go in the second quarter the Blue Devils found themselves down 19-16 with the whole court in front of them. A long inbound play allowed freshman Tavi Toles a chance at a three-point shot. With the ball in the air the buzzer sounded and Toles made the shot, swinging the momentum of the game entirely into the Blue Devils favor and tying the score up 19-19 heading into halftime.
“That (Tole’s shot) was a huge momentum swing going into halftime,” Sherman added.
The Blue Devils began to distance themselves from their opponent in the second half. By the end of the third quarter the Blue Devils had built a five point lead with a score of 32-27.
A 21 point fourth quarter was too much for the Indians to handle. The Blue Devils, led by Folson’s eight fourth quarter points were able to put Ackerman away 53-44.
“The team is very excited and proud to have a chance to play in the division tournament championship game,” Sherman said.
Folson led all scorers with 14 points. Benny Weekly also added 12 points. Junior Nick Robinson had a big game inside with 11 rebounds and four points. Toles finished with 10 points.
The wins put both teams in position to play for the division tournament championship Friday, Feb. 15.
The Lady Blue Devils was the first to start the action, taking on the Eupora Lady Eagles Friday night.
A slow start by both teams had the score 8-3 in favor of the Lady Blue Devils after the first quarter. A 16 point second quarter took the Lady Blue Devils into halftime up by five points by a score of 24-19. The lead was as big as 10 points, but the Lady Eagles were able to score five points in the last 30 seconds of the half.
Brittney Weekly and Thomas were able to put up 13 of the Lady Blue Devils 19 points in the third quarter. Thomas scored the final five points of the quarter to add to a lead that had dwindled to three. The Lady Blue Devils went into the final quarter of play leading 43-35. They were able to hold on to the lead in the fourth quarter to get the win 49-43.
Thomas closed out the game with 14 points and eight rebounds. Brittney Weekly added eight points with seven boards. M. Phillips led the team in rebounds with nine and was also able to score six points. A. Phillips threw in nine points for the night. The Lady Eagles were led by Shante Martin with her game high 20 points.
The win crowned the Lady Blue Devils region 2-2A tournament champions and gave Coach Linzy his first division tournament championship. Linzy had led the Lady Devils to the division tournament championship game six times before winning the title Friday night.
The boy’s team took on the Bruce Trojans in the final game of the division tournament championship. The Trojans were able to put up 43 points in the second half to pull out the win.
A.J. Folson was dominating on the offensive end in the first half. He was able to score 19 of the 36 first half points that the Blue Devils put up. Benny Weekly also added ten points, as the Blue Devils were ahead 36-28 going into halftime.
The Blue Devils were able to keep the eight point lead that they had built up until the three and half minute mark in the third quarter. The Trojans then went on a 13-0 run to close out the quarter up by five. The 21 point third quarter put up by the Trojans had them up 49-44 heading into the final quarter.
The Blue Devils seemed to have had all the life sucked out of them after Bruce had taken the lead. A 10 point fourth quarter was all the Devils managed to put up as they fell in the championship game 71-54.
Folson finished with 25 points to lead the Blue Devils in scoring. Benny Weekly ended with 14 points.
The officiating was very questionable throughout the game, as evident with Bruce getting the chance to shoot 22 free throws while Water Valley only shot five on the night.
The loss put the Blue Devils finishing second in the division tournament with a chance to host first round playoff action Tuesday, Feb. 19.
The Lady Blue Devils earned a win in the first round of the North State Tournament against the Baldwyn Bearcats Monday, Feb. 18.
The Water Valley Blue Devils lost a nail-biter in the first round of the division 2A basketball playoffs Wednesday night. “In 28 years of coaching I have never been more proud of a team’s effort,” says John Sherman, head coach of the Blue Devils.