Tickets for Jackson are being punched tonight, as MHSAA state quarterfinal games are played with tonight’s winners to be able to take the floor next in the building known as the Big House.
Center Hill and Olive Branch continue their effort to reach Mississippi Coliseum and the state 5A boys semifinals tonight, with Center Hill hosting Cleveland Central and Olive Branch traveling to Callaway.
The Mustangs were an 87-63 winner against Neshoba Central in the second round Saturday night, while Cleveland Central ousted Saltillo from the playoffs Monday night 54-38.
Olive Branch survived a scare at Holmes County Central Saturday night, as the defending state 5A champs held on for a 66-65 victory. They take on a Callaway team that easily disposed of Grenada 94-56 in a second-round game Monday night.
The two remaining 6A boys teams in the playoffs fell by the wayside Monday night, as Hernando’s last second attempt at a win fell short in a 51-49 loss to Murrah at Theron Long Gymnasium.
Malik Wallace led the 18-12 Tigers with 15 points and Kelly Smith added 13.
“We got the shots we wanted, a couple of wide open looks,” Hernando coach Stephen Cox said about the last-second attempt at a tying or winning basket. “The last one just hit the front rim, it was right on line.”
Cox said his team was looking to continue into the quarterfinals but was proud of what his team accomplished.
“Our goal was to win the district and we did that,” Cox said. “We were hoping to go a little further but that’s the breaks. A little bit of luck here and there and we’d still be playing. Overall it was a successful year.”
In the other 6A second-round game involving a DeSoto County school, Southaven traveled to Starkville and fell to the Yellowjackets 74-53. Starkville was scheduled to play Oxford in the quarterfinals.
Monday’s Murrah at Hernando match up started with the Lady Tigers moving into the quarterfinals after a 38-34 victory over the visiting Lady Mustangs.
No Hernando player scored in double figures but Alyssa Greer led the Lady Tigers’ scoring efforts with nine points, supported by Nekeyvia McKinzie’s eight points.
Timeishia Smith led all scorers with 13 for Murrah in the loss.
Hernando coach Daniel Forbes was concerned about a long layoff since the game had been postponed due to weather.
“I was expecting us to be a little rusty coming off of 12 days of not playing, expecting to play and then being pushed back, expecting to play and again being pushed back,” Forbes pointed out. “Alyssa Greer was solid for us all night long, has been great for us all year and a lot of the stuff that she does won’t show up in the stat book. She’s the glue that holds us together, defensively and offensively.”
Hernando travels to Tupelo for a quarterfinal contest tonight, after Tupelo advanced with a 62-34 victory over Northwest Rankin.
On the other side of the North bracket, Horn Lake plays at Greenville and faces a team that is 30-0 on the season and second to Pearl in the MaxPreps 6A girls rankings. The Lady Eagles disposed of defending state 6A champ Starkville 55-48 last Friday to reach the quarterfinal round.
As state tournament tickets are being punched, two teams already know that they are in their respective state semifinals.
Olive Branch traveled to Lafayette Monday night and came away with a dominating 62-37 victory. After a one-year MHSAA suspension, the Lady Quistors will be back at the Big House, playing in the 5A semifinals on Tuesday, March 5 at 4 p.m. against Hattiesburg, which advanced with a 45-41 victory over West Jones in the quarterfinals.
The other 5A girls’ semifinal will have Germantown against West Jones the same day at 5:30 p.m. Winners will meet in the state championship game at the Coliseum Friday, March 8 at 6 p.m.
Tomorrow, Northpoint Christian School will be back for the seventh straight year in the TSSAA Division II-A state Final Four. The 26-7 Lady Trojans take Christian Academy of Knoxville, Tennessee (25-5) at 3:15 p.m., after Harding Academy (28-2) meets Providence Christian Academy (20-7) in the other semifinal.
Winners meet Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in the state championship game. This year’s Tennessee tournament is again being played at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena in Nashville.
Northpoint reached the Tennessee Final Four with a 49-31 victory at Christ Presbyterian Academy of Nashville.
HUSTLE HALT VIPERS: The Memphis Hustle rebounded from a road loss at Long Island last Sunday to handle the Rio Grande Valley Vipers 122-113 Tuesday night at the Landers Center in Southaven. The win moved the Hustle’s record to 22-18 with 10 games to play, but a four-game road trip begins for Memphis before the first of three remaining home games on Friday, March 8 against Santa Cruz, which will be the Hustle’s first opponent this Friday night in California.
Tarik Phillip continued his scoring surge with a 26-point-performance, one of six Memphis players in double figures.
That effort followed his 48-point-performance at Long Island in the loss on Sunday.
“It’s just a good feeling when you see the ball go in,” Phillip said. “When you see it fall in like that, it’s a good night.”
Yuta Watanabe and Julian Washburn each had double-doubles for the Hustle, with Watanabe scoring 22 points and Washburn adding 15. Both pulled down 11 rebounds.
Jevon Carter also scored 22 points, Doral Moore 16, and Nino Johnson came off the bench to score 11 in the win.
Memphis remains a game ahead of Salt Lake City for the sixth and final Western Conference playoff spot. The Hustle is also a game behind Sioux Falls for the number five position.
BASEBALL, SOFTBALL STARTING: Tuesday at the DeSoto County baseball tournament, Hernando defeated Horn Lake 5-3 to reach the championship round against DeSoto Central, a 12-0 winner over Southaven.
Among girls’ softball play on Tuesday, Hernando shut out Center Hill 6-0 and DeSoto Central stopped Lake Cormorant 14-1.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.