Notebook: Wildcats’ press clicks in upset over Canton

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Of their 14 games so far this season, the Wilkinson County Wildcats may have gotten the most out of one in which they didn’t participate.

It was Saturday’s Forest Hill-Murrah game at the Jackson Public School/Pepsi Holiday Classic where Jim Hill came back to take a 79-70 win. Both teams pressed the other like madmen, and it gave WC head coach Henry Storey a chance to point out things in the press using distinct evidence.

Those pointers, it turned out, paid dividends in the best way for the Wildcats Saturday. They topped No. 13-ranked Canton, 70-69, in a consolation game.

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&uot;It was great to end the holidays on a winning note,&uot; Storey said. &uot;Hopefully we can start being more consistent. The last few games have been bad game, good game, bad game, good game. What we’re trying to do is step up and have good games after good games.&uot;

Credit much of Saturday’s win to the press, which the team has a little more belief and confidence in now. As good as both Jim Hill and Murrah got after each other all over the court, it showed the Wildcats what an effectively run press can do to the opposition.

Not to mention it was one of the faster games they’ve seen this season, Storey said. But it definitely gave them a spark.

&uot;My guys really looked good in the press,&uot; he said. &uot;I was sitting there telling them that’s the way it’s supposed to be ran. We ran the press most of the night, and it was great. We had an early double-figure lead. Our press worked. I think watching that game really helped us out.&uot;

Not only did defense help, but so did high-flying guard Bryant Spiller. The senior tossed in 26 points but had the most important two come with five seconds left when he converted both ends of an one-and-one to tame the one-point lead.

Canton called a timeout and tried to get a shot off, but it rimmed out.

It was the second straight big day for Spiller, who had 17 of the team’s 33 points in a 72-33 loss to Jim Hill Friday.

&uot;Spiller stepped up and played his game,&uot; Storey said. &uot;He played Friday, too, but there wasn’t much help from anyone else. But (on the final play) we didn’t guard the throw-in man. Their leading scorer had a good look at it and had hit about three of four 3-pointers earlier, but it rimmed out.&uot;

The semifinal pairings are set for today back in Jackson. In boys, Provine plays Jim Hill and Callaway plays Lanier. The girls’ final pairings include Callaway against Canton and Provine against Murrah.

ALSO SATURDAY &045; Tournament action ended with a flurry at Wesson with both Cathedral teams turning in better performances before coming up short to the Cobras.

The Lady Wave got a double-double from post Danielle Smith with 14 points and 14 rebounds before coming up short against Wesson, but the Green Wave finished strong after a slow start in falling to the Cobras, 50-44.

Wesson went up 16-8 by the end of the first quarter before Cathedral stormed back with an 18-7 edge in the second to lead 26-23 at halftime. Wesson trimmed the lead to 37-35 heading into the fourth quarter before turning it up a notch and taking the six-point win.

&uot;We got off to a slow start, but we had a good second quarter,&uot; CHS assistant Peter Arnold said. &uot;They had too many second chances. They had 16 offensive rebounds. We didn’t score enough in the fourth quarter. We just hit a drought. Once they got the lead, we couldn’t match up with them.&uot;

Both Cathedral teams play at Wesson today in consolation contests. The girls play at 1 p.m. against Bogue Chitto, and the boys play at 2:30 p.m. also against Bogue Chitto.

BRIGHT SPOT &045; Much to the chagrin of their coach, the Vidalia Vikings couldn’t put away Bastrop until late in the game thanks to a 21-of-41 night from the free throw line.

But give Tony Hawkins props for connecting on most of his when he got the chance. Hawkins showed he’s growing into that shooting guard position nicely as he finished Friday’s game with 29 points. He went to the line a bunch of times, including seven shots from the line in the second quarter alone.

He made 11 of 15 free throws from the game and got Bastrop’s top shooter, Deremy McDaniels, in foul trouble by just taking it to the goal.

&uot;His outside shooting opened up the inside,&uot; Sanders said. &uot;That (10 free throws) was pretty much on his own. We do encourage him that if it’s open, take it. At the very least he’ll go to the line after getting fouled. He’s probably our best free throw shooter.&uot;