Provine and Forest Hill capture JPS Christmas tournament trophies

Championship winners Forest Hill girls

By Tim Ward 

Sports Writer

The Lady Patriots of Forest Hill went to the championship game for the third consecutive season last Saturday. Just like last year, they won it behind good defense and solid offensive execution.

Alexis Collins was named tournament MVP, leading Forest Hill to a 70 to 52 win over Meridian.

Meridian could not make shots. The pressure defense of Forest Hill game them fits. They started the game slowly on the offensive side of the ball and the trend continued.  Most people considered this game an upset based on Meridian’s high ranking. Meridian was ranked in the top three before the tournament. Meridian is also a favorite to win the 6A title. However, Forest Hill is the two-time defending 6A state champion and does not plan to hand it over easily.

Last year, Forest Hill knocked off Meridian in the JPS Christmas tournament in route to their back to back 6A state title. Coach Tangela Banks lost some important seniors, but her girls have started to step up and do what she needs them to do.  Time will tell how far these Lady Patriots can go.

The Provine Rams entered the JPS tournament looking to prove that they were not just the best JPS boys team, but the best boys team period. The Rams defeated Wingfield by 22 and defeated Lanier by 11. The team came in with confidence and a little bit of swagger. Their opponent? The 6A State champions, Murrah Mustangs. Murrah is going through a youth infusion of talent right now, but the youngsters are coming along. Murrah had only won three games entering the tournament, but managed to defeat Forest Hill and Crystal Springs to catapult themselves into the championship game.

Once the game got underway, Provine jumped out to an early lead. Pressure combined with three pointers pushed Provine out to a double digit lead. D’Angelo West was feeling it from beyond the arc. If he wasn’t launching 3’s, he was penetrating and finding teammates for open looks. Jerekius Davis was also stellar for the Rams. Inside or outside, pick your poison. Murrah was paced by Dandy Dozen guards, Jacob Ivory and Chris McIntosh. Murrah didn’t panic despite the deficit. Instead, they turned up the heat. All over the court were blue jerseys running hard. They began to force some turnovers. Provine managed the pressure pretty well, but some of their shots didn’t fall early in the second half. Murrah made a great attempt, but ultimately fell short, 65 to 60. Provine captures the JPS Championship. D’Angelo West was crowned MVP.