Both boys’ and girls’ basketball teams from Hernando had to hold off late threats from their Northpoint Christian School counterparts Tuesday night in posting a sweep of games at Hernando’s Theron Long Gymnasium.
The Hernando boys, taking a 10-point lead at 48-38 heading into the final eight minutes, held off a late charge from the Trojans in the Tigers’ 56-51 victory. Hernando had erupted for 17 third-quarter points after holding just a 31-29 margin at halftime.
Hernando coach Stephen Cox said it was quite a battle between the teams.
“We build a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter and they picked up the pressure on us,” Cox said. “The first five minutes of the fourth quarter we didn’t handle that pressure well and it became a dogfight there at the end. We settled down and handled the pressure the last 2-3 minutes.”
Malik Wallace’s game-high 24 points in the victory led Hernando. Cox said Wallace has been the team leader for his team the entire year.
“He’s leading us in scoring and rebounding, he’s had a good career and he’s played well, he’s played really, really well,” Cox noted.
Northpoint was again led by the tandem of Jorden Flowers, who led the Trojans with 17 points, and C.J. Norfleet, who netted 16 points in the loss.
The Hernando girls held a 15-point halftime lead at 30-15 over Northpoint at halftime, as coach Daniel Forbes’ Lady Tigers allowed only five Lady Trojan points in the entire second quarter.
But, Northpoint settled in during the second half and outscored Hernando by a 33-24 margin, although it was not enough to steal the victory on the road.
Forbes credited the play of a freshman as the difference in the contest.
“Abbey Harrison was stepping up and blocking shots, making layups and knocking down two big free throws at the end when we finally got into the bonus there late in the fourth quarter,” Forbes said.
Harrison scored 10 points as part of a balanced Lady Tiger attack led by Nekeyvia McKinzie with 11 points. Zuri Dunlap added 10 more for Hernando.
Northpoint’s Amara McKay scored a game-high 20 points, 13 of which came in a second half surge for a team Forbes said he has a lot of respect for.
“Northpoint is one of the best teams in the county that’s not being talked about and I don’t know how that’s possible with their two state championships,” Forbes said. “Everybody talks about Olive Branch but Northpoint has been one of the best teams in the county for the past several years.”
Elsewhere in Tuesday DeSoto County boys’ basketball, 5A top-ranked Center Hill (22-1) defeated Lake Cormorant 90-60 behind Ken Lewis’ 31 points. Donovan Sanders led Lake Cormorant with 23.
The win over the Gators came one day after Center Hill bounced Petal 76-53 in the Rumble in the South Classic. Decorian Payton led the Mustangs in that one with a double-double, 20 points and 10 rebounds. Ken Lewis added 17 for Center Hill in that victory.
Olive Branch pasted Lewisburg 104-47, Oxford kept DeSoto Central winless on the year with an 86-43 win and it was Marshall Academy over Magnolia Heights 60-49.
In other DeSoto County girls’ hoops action Tuesday, Olive Branch held Lewisburg to just 11 points the entire game in a 77-11 victory, Oxford held off DeSoto Central 46-45 and it was Magnolia Heights over Marshall Academy 54-50.
SOCCER KICKS: Tuesday on the boys’ soccer pitch, Center Hill scored six times in the first half enroute to a 10-1 victory over Corinth. Ivan Gonzalez, Ashton Taylor, Hart Smith and Braden Taylor each scored two goals for the top-ranked Mustangs, now 14-1-1 for the year.
DeSoto Central clinched a playoff spot for the fourth straight in the Jaguars’ 3-1 victory over Southaven, while in MAIS play; it was Heritage Academy over Magnolia Heights 8-0.
Meanwhile in girls’ action Tuesday, Maggie Gaines’ three-goal hat trick paced Center Hill to a 4-3 shootout victory over Corinth. The 9-7 Lady Mustangs won the shootout by a 3-1 margin.
Lewisburg blanked Hernando 5-0 with four second-half goals. Morgan Vanderburg scored two goals for the Lady Patriots in the win.
Elsewhere, Southaven edged DeSoto Central 2-1.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.