Callaway sweeps Natchez

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 6, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; It was a long night for Natchez High’s varsity basketball teams against two of the top teams in the state Friday night at the Natchez High gym.

Actually, Callaway’s Lady Chargers are the top-ranked team in the state and are ranked No. 20 in the nation in the USA Today’s national Top 25 poll, and they proved just how good they are in an 86-41 rout over the Lady Bulldogs.

Natchez (2-4) was without head coach Mary Irving, who was in the hospital with an illness, meaning assistant coach Steve McClatchey filled in for her.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;They’re a real good team,&uot; McClatchey said. &uot;I saw some positives out of the way we played.&uot;

And the Lady Bulldogs stayed with the mighty Lady Chargers in a back-and-forth first quarter, leading late in the quarter 12-10.

But once Janie Mitchell got going late in the quarter, neither she nor the Lady Chargers could be stopped as they started the rout with a 6-0 run in final minute and a half of the opening quarter to take a 16-12 lead.

Mitchell nearly had a triple-double, finishing with 38 points, 14 rebounds, seven steals and two blocked shots.

&uot;I was really impressed with the way they run the floor,&uot; Lady Bulldogs assistant coach Yvonne Chatman said. &uot;She (Mitchell) has a lot of confidence in her shooting.&uot;

Then the scoring spree really opened up in the second quarter as Callaway switched up its defense to a zone, which led to easy baskets for Mitchell, Juanita Ward and reserve Sabrina Holden.

&uot;Sabrina’s our first person off the bench,&uot; Lady Chargers head coach Maxine Johnson said. &uot;She gets us started on defense.&uot;

Mitchell scored 12 of her 20 first-half points and Holden scored nine of her 11 points in the second quarter as the Lady Chargers outscored the Lady Bulldogs 29-4 to take a 45-16 halftime lead.

&uot;The first quarter we were pleased with our play. The second quarter they started getting second and third shots,&uot; McClatchey said. &uot;They they started getting steals off their halfcourt defense.&uot;

Dominic Cranford, who kept Callaway, now 8-0, undefeated with her play in a close win over No. 2 Murrah last Tuesday night, also had a solid game with 14 points, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

&uot;Dominic’s a two point guard,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;She’ll get that rebound and kick the ball out. I think that once we went into the zone and forced the turnovers, we were able to run the floor. We’re a running team.&uot;

Natchez’s defense, along with Miracle Calcote scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter, which included a pair of three-pointers, kept the score from getting any worse.

The Lady Bulldogs were only outscored by three, 13-10 in the third quarter as they forced nine Lady Charger turnovers (they turned the ball over 24 times in the game), which did not please coach Johnson

&uot;That’s why I kept the five starters in,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;They need to learn to play four quarters.

&uot;Overall we played well in spots,&uot; Chatman said. &uot;I’m pleased with the effort.&uot;

In the boys game, Charles Thomas scored 28 points, including 11-of-12 from the free-throw line, and was involved in both ends of some amazing alley oops in the first half as the Chargers cruised to a 74-51 win.

The 23-point margin was closer than it indicated, however, as Tyrone Butler scored most of his 10 points late to make the score more respectable.

&uot;Size. Size. Size,&uot; said Natchez’s Derrick Blackwell, who led the Bulldogs with 14 points, including four three-pointers. &uot;There was nothing we could do about it.&uot;

The first quarter belonged to Thomas and teammate Roderick Hansford, who scored seven points each as the Chargers (7-1) took a 16-4 lead and never looked back.

Hansford finished with 22 points, including three three-pointers, and six rebounds.

The combination of Thomas, Hansford and Robert Clark, who had 12 points, either were the passer or the dunker in those alley oops that thrilled not only Callaway fans, but some Natchez fans as well.

The Chargers then outscored the Bulldogs (3-3) 25-15 to take a 41-19 halftime lead and extended their lead to as much as 35 points early in the fourth quarter.

&uot;We didn’t rebound a lot,&uot; Blackwell said. &uot;We just gotta get better at the boards.&uot;

Thanks to Bulter and Blackwell, as well as some sloppy play by Callaway, the Bulldogs outscored the Chargers 22-14 in the fourth quarter.