There are four DeSoto County Schools basketball teams that have made the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) state Final Four, starting next week. Meanwhile, Northpoint Christian School Friday was back playing for a Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA) state girls Division II-A championship in that state’s Final Four.
With the Olive Branch girls already in the MHSAA 5A girls’ semifinals, four other DCS teams Thursday were trying to also earn their spot on the Mississippi Coliseum floor next week.
Of that quartet, only the Horn Lake girls were denied the privilege. The Lady Eagles, who have played well all season, fell at the hands of now 31-0 Greenville 48-40 in a 6A quarterfinal game at Greenville. The loss ended Horn Lake’s season at 22-8.
There will be a DCS team making the 6A girls’ Final Four, however, as Hernando traveled to Tupelo and advanced with a 43-40 win over the Lady Wave. Hernando improved to 26-6 for the season and the district champions will face Terry (25-8) in Wednesday’s semifinals, starting at 4 p.m. at Mississippi Coliseum.
Kendria Merriweather led Hernando with 12 points in the victory.
The Lady Tigers will be joined at state by Olive Branch, which earlier secured its spot in the 5A girls’ state semifinals with a 62-37 conquest of Lafayette Monday night. The 27-4 Lady Quistors meet Hattiesburg Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the semifinals.
Both DeSoto County 5A boys’ contenders have reached the Coliseum, also known as the Big House, after convincing state quarterfinal victories Thursday night.
District champion Center Hill dominated Cleveland Central from the opening tip and cruised to an 89-55 win at Center Hill.
The 29-3 Mustangs meet Hattiesburg (24-8) in the state semis Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.
It will be Center Hill’s third time at the state tournament under coach Newton Mealer with Final Four appearances now numbering two.
After a heavenward word of thanks, Mealer went to explain how a bitter taste in last year’s tournament after a loss to Saltillo inspired this year’s group to get ready for a return trip to Jackson.
“It didn’t matter who we played tonight, our kids were not to be denied,” Mealer said. “They were ready. Our slogan is, ‘how do we want to leave our legacy?’ and our legacy is going to be left now in the Big House.”
The Mustangs earlier this season defeated Cleveland Central 85-55 in the second game of the season.
Calvin Temple led Center Hill with 24 points Thursday night, supported by Ken Lewis with 21 and Kevin Henry with 16. Jamaal Anderson paced the 19-13 Wolves with 15 points in the loss.
On the other side of the bracket will be defending state 5A champion Olive Branch, which will be back to defend its title after a convincing 72-50 victory at Callaway in another quarterfinal contest Thursday.
C.J. Owens led Olive Branch with 22 points, all but one free throw coming from behind the three-point line on seven treys.
The Conquistadors took a 9-7 lead after one quarter and led by 35-26 at halftime. Olive Branch turned up the offense in the third quarter to take a 52-40 advantage going into the final quarter.
The Quistors now face the team they beat to win the state title last year, Forest Hill. That game will follow the Center Hill-Hattiesburg contest. Center Hill plays at 7 p.m. Tuesday, followed by Olive Branch-Forest Hill at 8:30 p.m.
LADY TROJANS AT STATE: The Northpoint Christian girls' basketball team plays Christian Academy of Knoxville, Tennessee at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee Friday afternoon, beginning about 3:15 p.m.
The Lady Trojans are in the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA) Division II-A state semifinals for the seventh consecutive year. If Northpoint wins, they will play either Harding Academy or Providence Christian Academy in Saturday’s state championship game, beginning at 4:30 p.m.
JAGUARS WIN COUNTY BASEBALL: DeSoto Central, the defending MHSAA 6A state champions, claimed the DeSoto County baseball championship Thursday with a five-inning, 13-3 victory over the host Tigers at Hernando. The 4-0 Jaguars scored runs in all but the fifth inning in the run rule-shortened contest. Dylan Hale had three hits and three runs batted in to lead the DeSoto Central offense. Will Logsdon pitched three innings to earn the mound victory.
Elsewhere in the county tournament, Olive Branch edged Lewisburg 8-7 at Hernando, while at Lake Cormorant it was Center Hill over the host Gators 8-3 and Southaven beat Horn Lake 19-3.
SPORTS ETC.: In high school tennis from Thursday, it was Center Hill over DeSoto Central 5-2. In high school softball, Lake Cormorant defeated Horn Lake 11-1.
The Memphis Hustle start a road trip they hope will help get them closer to an NBA G League playoff spot this weekend with a Friday night game at Santa Cruz, followed a Sunday contest at Stockton, California. Two more road games will follow before the Hustle return home to play Santa Cruz on Friday, March 8 at the Landers Center in Southaven. Memphis currently holds the sixth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
SOFTBALL ALL-STARS NAMED: Four players from DeSoto County schools have been named to participate in the annual Mississippi Association of Coaches All-Star series. The two-game set between top junior players from North and South Mississippi will be on May 31-June 1 at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville. The four are Kaitlyn Bednarek and Raegan Stafford of DeSoto Central, Maddie Brower of Lewisburg and Ke Ke O’Bryant of Southaven. Coaches for the 4A/5A/6A North team will be Lee Buse and Chris Summers of Saltillo.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.