Natchez High School’s Kaylin Griffin goes up for a layup while defended by Jefferson County High School’s JaDarrius Harried and Jarmel Anderson during Friday’s game. Jefferson County won, 54-53. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

Jefferson County boys edge Natchez High

Published 12:01am Monday, December 3, 2012

NATCHEZ — Nicholas Brown had the weight of years of disappointment on his shoulders as he stood on the free throw line at Natchez High School Friday night.

The pressure mounted even more after the Jefferson County senior’s first free throw bounced off the rim and hit the floor. But his second found the mark to give the Tigers a 54-53 advantage with just eight seconds left in the game.

The Tiger defense then stood tall as Natchez High’s DeArius Griffin took the ball coast to coast, but had it knocked away in the lane and was forced to put up a desperation shot that fell short to allow Jefferson County to defeat the Bulldogs 54-53.

“This is the biggest thing in my whole life right now,” Brown said.

The win was a milestone for Jefferson County head coach Marcus Walton said.

“I don’t think we’ve beaten Natchez in probably seven or eight years,” Walton said. “I can’t even remember when the last time was. It’s such a great program, and coach (Mike) Martin and coach (David) Haywood do a great job. Those guys played hard and played with discipline.”

Brown said he understood that it had been a while since the Tigers had topped the Bulldogs, and it crossed his mind when he was on the line.

“I wanted to win the game for coach,” he said.

Jefferson County trailed at the end of each of the first three quarters but managed to take a lead early in the fourth. The Tigers got the lead to eight before Natchez made a run.

“It was a slugfest all night,” Walton said. “Both teams played good, and it was a tight game from start to finish.”

On the other end of the floor, the Bulldogs missed some free throws down the stretch and did not close the game out the way assistant coach David Haywood would have liked, he said.

“Mentally we played bad all night,” Haywood said. “We played bad all night, and we can’t expect to pull it out at the end when we struggled all night. Give credit to Jefferson County, they played hard and made plays.”

Natchez did manage to take a lead 53-52 with 45 seconds to go in the game, but a foul put Brown at the line with 40 seconds left. The senior hit one of two to tie the contest, before the two teams traded missed opportunities to score the go ahead bucket.

Jefferson County senior Jarmell Anderson led all scorers with 19 points, and he said it was great to end his losing streak against the Bulldogs.

“It was a big game, and one we really were trying to win,” he said.

Ryale Brown finished with 14 points, and Brown had 10.

Keylan Wimley and JaDarrius Williams led the Bulldogs with 12 and 11 points respectively.

Natchez (2-3) will hit the road to face Franklin Parish Tuesday. Jefferson County (4-3) will host Amite County Tuesday.

Natchez High girls 58, Jefferson County 35

Keyana Miller scored 18 points for the Natchez High School girls’ basketball team to lead it to a decisive win over Jefferson County Friday night.

Miller had 14 of her 18 in the first half, and the Lady Bulldogs started pulling way from the Lady Tigers late in the second quarter to cruse to a 58-35 win.

Natchez High School’s Zyaire Ewing goes up for a shot against Jefferson County High School’s Diamond Smith during Friday’s game. The Lady Bulldogs defeated the Tigers 58-35. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

“I think we did a good job playing our game overall, but I don’t think we played to our potential,” Natchez head coach Alphaka Moore said. “I was happy with the way it came out.”

The Lady Tigers felt the let the game slip away from them in the second half, senior Brandy Buck said.

“I felt like we played great in the first half,” Buck said. “But we’ve got to work together. I believe we are disappointed because we could have played better and won.”

The Lady Bulldogs dominated the second half, outscoring Jefferson County 27-11 after the break.

Senior Taneisha Bailey said the Lady Tigers did not play physical enough in the second half.

“We got out-rebounded and out-muscled,” she said.

Kiana Jones finished as the Lady Bulldogs’ second-leading scorer with 13 points. Buck led Jefferson County with 16.

Natchez (4-1) will face Franklin Parish Tuesday. Jefferson County (3-4) will host Amite County Tuesday.