Three of the four DeSoto County boys’ basketball teams still alive in the MHSAA postseason have advanced to the state quarterfinals after second-round games played Saturday night.
Both Olive Branch and Southaven advanced with Saturday victories, as defending state champion Center Hill in 5A. However, Lake Cormorant saw its season end with a 94-58 loss to a strong Callaway squad, considered Mississippi’s top-ranked team by the national high school sports service MaxPreps.
The Mustangs held a 16-11 lead, mostly due to an eight-point run at the end of the quarter that brought the home team back from 11-8 behind.
“We made a big adjustment right there,” said Center Hill coach Newton Mealer. “We went into a 2-2-1 defense and that was something they had not seen. I thought it threw them off and we were able to take advantage of that.”
Center Hill extended the lead to 37-24 at halftime with 21 second-quarter points.
Vicksburg held serve in the third quarter as each team traded 16 points apiece and the Gators actually outscored Center Hill 20-16 in the final eight minutes.
“We can usually will our way in teams in the second half,” Mealer said. “We just wear people down.”
Vicksburg got within 63-58 in the final minutes but couldn’t get any closer.
Center Hill finished with four players in double figures, led by Zandon Haralson with 23 points, which Mealer noted as a key to the Mustangs’ victory.
“We had a good talk with him before the game because last year he wasn’t at this moment; he was on the bench,” Mealer said. “He’s a knock-down three-point shooter with mental toughness.”
Kaeden Laws and Decorian Payton each scored 13 points and Jacquez Hardin ended up with 12.
Game-high honors for the night went to Vicksburg’s Peytin Jackson with 24 points.
At Olive Branch High School, the Conquistadors took a slim 19-18 lead to the first quarter break but held the Jaguars to only seven points in the second quarter to take a 40-25 into the intermission break.
Olive Branch extended the lead to 56-35 after three quarters on its way to the playoff victory.
Southaven advanced with an 83-64 win against Greenville.
In Jackson at Callaway, the home-standing Chargers took a 26-14 lead after one quarter and extended the lead to 45-29 at halftime. Callaway’s lead became 65-44 after three quarters.
Lake Cormorant finished their year with an 18-15 record.
For the boys’ teams remaining the tournament, Olive Branch will play Starkville in the quarterfinals Saturday at Mississippi Valley State University, starting at 7 p.m. Southaven will follow at 8:30 p.m. against Murrah, which defeated Tupelo Saturday 78-56.
Center Hill heads to Fulton and Itawamba Community College, where the Mustangs play Cleveland Central, which stopped Columbus 72-54 Saturday evening.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.