Tigers get taste of own medicine in loss to Panthers

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 28, 2003

JACKSON &045; When it’s rolling, Jefferson County likes to take pride in what its half-court defensive pressure can do to people.

Yazoo County apparently thinks the same way.

The Panthers had the most intensity on the defensive end for most of the game, and they held Dewones Smith and the rest of the Tigers’ guards in check to take a 73-60 win in the Class 3A playoffs at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.

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The loss ended the season for the Tigers, while the Panthers move on to the semifinals next week.

&uot;Their defensive intensity and rebounding was the difference in the whole ball game,&uot; Jefferson County head coach Marcus Walton said. &uot;We came out with very little defensive intensity. We knew they would be patient on the offensive end, but we made some costly turnovers.&uot;

The Panthers held Smith to just two baskets in the second half and eventually got the best of Jefferson County big man Juan Wyatt, who didn’t go quietly and finished with a game-high 22 points. But the Panthers’ man-to-man set contested several of Jefferson County’s shots, and left them with only one option &045; go inside to Wyatt.

&uot;That’s what we were trying to do,&uot; Yazoo County head coach Archie Carlyle said. &uot;We knew they had good shooting guards, so we put pressure out on them. They can really shoot it up.&uot;

Wyatt kept the Tigers in the game as Yazoo County didn’t have anyone close to his size to match up down low. Wyatt was drawing double- and triple-teams in the post as the game went on, but he put in a basket with 5:13 left in the game to trim the lead to 60-52 and give the Tigers new hope after trailing most of the game.

The Panthers then got scored on two straight possessions for a 64-52 lead when Chanell Burks put in a basket with 4:31 left.

The Tigers then turned it over on their next possession.

&uot;We knew they were dropping (on Wyatt),&uot; Walton said. &uot;That was our game plan tonight &045; get it to him early and open up our guards later in the game. In the fourth quarter they took away what we wanted to do. We went to Alcorn Tuesday to try to get a little practice and get used to that open space (shooting). We shot well Tuesday, but tonight we came out and couldn’t knock down the open shots we had.&uot;

The Tigers were forced to go with the press late in the game in hopes of getting back in it, but the Panthers didn’t have trouble breaking it. Yazoo went with a more full-court offense against Jefferson’s press, and the Panthers got a basket from Marcus Thomas with 2:37 left to take a comfortable 67-54 lead.

Coupled with that, the Panthers hit 9 of 13 shots from the free throw line &045; including 8 of 10 from Anthony Carlyle &045; to close out the win. Wyatt tossed in a bucket at the 1:50 mark to trim the lead to 69-58, but Anthony Carlyle hit two free throws right after that for a 71-58 lead.

&uot;We’ve been doing pretty well against the press,&uot; Archie Carlyle said. &uot;That’s part of the offense we run. We beat them down the floor, and they loosen up we try to get a few easy baskets.&uot;

The Tigers struggled out of the gate before making a run in the second quarter thanks to some defensive pressure to take their only lead of the game. After Kenyon Jones missed a free throw on a chance for a three-point play for a 25-16 lead, Wyatt hit a bucket to spark a 12-0 run that ended with two free throws from Joshfer Nichols at the 3:13 mark for a 28-25 Jefferson County lead.

&uot;We tried to put the double-team on him,&uot; Archie Carlyle said. &uot;He’s tough. That’s the respect we had of him. We had to double-team him every time he touched it. When he didn’t touch it, we tried to keep him from touching it. He’s strong down there. We tried to front him and not let him touch it.&uot;

Yazoo County pulled away from there and allowed only one Jefferson County field goal &045; a Nichols 3-pointer &045; in the final three minutes of the first half. The Panthers took a 36-33 lead at half and pulled away midway through the third when a Calvin White basket with 4:32 left triggered a 10-2 run that ended with a basket from Anthony Carlyle at the 1:41 mark for a 52-41 lead.