By Tim Ward
What a first day for the annual JPS/Pepsi Holiday Tournament! Teams came out battling hard showing no Christmas rust. Many of the teams hadn’t played a real game in about a week, so the opportunity to go against real competition was something the teams craved.
The day started with simultaneous games being played. At Lanier High School, Terry high school, led by Mississippi State signee, Nyah Tate defeated the Wingfield Lady Falcons 61 to 39. Meanwhile, at Murrah, Callaway’s girls were battling with Warren Central. The game went back and forth until the 4th quarter when Callaway pulled away for good.
Tenacious defense forced Warren Central into committing turnovers. Callaway won 51 to 40. Callaway’s boys also played Warren Central. Tanarrio Ransburgh, Kassim Nicholson, and John Knight paced the Chargers to a 70 to 51 victory over the Vikings. Callaway controlled the game throughout. Ransburgh got hot in the 3rd quarter putting on a one man three point showcase, but his teammate John Knight brought the crowd to its feet with a breakaway dunk while he getting fouled.
Arguably the best game of the day was the 4 p.m. game. Terry versus Wingfield. Boys Game. The game was back and forth providing everything a fan craves. Three point shooting, dunks, defense, and pressure packed situations. Terry came out the gates sluggish. Wingfield, coached by Spencer Gatlin, took advantage. The Falcons surged to the lead quickly in the first half. Terry continued to dwindle the lead down. After halftime, Terry came out with more energy, catapulting to a 10 point lead. KenTarri Taylor was money from behind the arc. Fast forward to the 4th quarter. Wingfield starts to make a rally. Alfonzo Green, Robert Washington, and football quarterback sensation, LaAndre Thomas brought the falcons back. Rebounding, stealing passes, getting fouled, frustrated Terry.
The one bad thing from the game was the free throw shooting by both teams. It is said pressure burst pipes. Missed free throws would come back to haunt both teams. Under 10 seconds to go, Wingfield has completed the comeback to take the lead. Terry has to inbound the ball from other side of the gym. KenTarri Taylor races the ball down court, double teamed the entire way. He’s looking for a teammate. Clock is ticking. Jimmy Burse gets the pass, shoots, missed! Players everywhere jumping, bounding the backboard. Terry misses another shot, crowd on its feet, some screaming “foul!” clock is down to 0.6 seconds. KenTarri Taylor gets one last chance to tip the ball in with 0.3 seconds left. His tip is good! Terry wins at the buzzer. Good game by both teams. Terry edges Wingfield 68 to 67.
Jim Hill’s Lady Tigers locked up with the girls defending JPS/PEPSI tournament champion, Holmes County Central. The Lady Jaguars also won the 5a state championship last season. Jim Hill suffocated Holmes County defensively. When they weren’t attacking on the defensive end, they were running on the offensive end. Holmes County graduated more than 6 seniors from last year’s championship team and they needed them against Jim Hill. Coach Jacqueline Ross did not let her Lady Tigers take it easy. Pedal to the medal. Nakeisha Holcomb, led the way for Jim Hill as they cruised to a 67 to 36 victory.
The final game of the day at Murrah was a boys’ game featuring Jim Hill and Murrah. What Jim Hill lacked in size, they made up for with hustle. Quindarius Gibson’s relentless hustle, gave Jim Hill the toughness needed in the paint. When Gibson wasn’t attacking, it was his teammate; Keelen Martin had his back. The duo pounded the boards all night. On paper, Murrah was a clear favorite. Size, speed, and playmaking ability were all in favor of the Mustangs. But they don’t play the game on paper. Jim Hill’s defense would not back down. The game became a mental game down the stretch. Players would get fouled but could not convert the free throws. Murrah had the ball with 6.1 seconds left. Jonas James II dribbles up midcourt, 3.7 seconds left, he passes to his teammate, Adam Wallace who takes two dribbles and goes up for the game winner. Gibson and Martin converge on him. Shot is no good. Murrah wants a foul, Jim Hill collects the rebound as the final horn sounds. Tiger fans cheer while Mustang fans are shocked that a foul wasn’t called. Jim Hill wins 57 to 56.
In other action at Lanier. Forest Hill’s girls defeated Provine 42 to 32. Perhaps the biggest upset of the day, Crystal Springs defeated Provine’s boys in overtime 70 to 69. The Lady Bulldogs protected homecourt defeating Natchez 41 to 36. Holmes County Central’s boys won 68 to 55 over Lanier.