Natchez boys, girls get close wins over Murrah

Published 12:16 am Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NATCHEZ — The Natchez High School basketball team showed it has the ability to scrape out a win despite not playing its best basketball Tuesday night.

The Bulldogs started slow before going on a 28-12 run to take control and take a 40-31 lead into the final quarter.

But Murrah stepped up its full-court trap defense and clawed its way back into the game before Natchez managed to scrape out a 48-47 victory with a final defensive stand.

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Murrah trailed by one with less than nine seconds to go when the Mustangs’ Jacob Ivory took the ball the length of the floor before missing a contested layup and giving the Bulldogs the win.

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez High School’s Dearius Griffin goes up for a shot against Murrah High School’s Chris McIntosh during the game Tuesday. Natchez defeated Murrah 48-47, and Griffin finished with 22 points.

“We got a little nervous toward the end,” Natchez assistant coach David Haywood said. “But we made plays at the right time, and didn’t hang our heads.”

The chief Bulldog playmaker in the second half was Dearius Griffin, who scored 10 of his 22 points in the second half, while the rest of his teammates combined for only five.

Natchez trailed 13-5 early in the first quarter before getting hot from behind the arc. Gary Woods hit four three-pointers in the first half to help Natchez storm ahead by eight at halftime. Woods finished with 14 points.

The Mustangs press hurt the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter, but Haywood said it was a good experience for his team to battle through some adversity.

“This will definitely help with our confidence,” he said.

Haywood said the Bulldogs’ first win of the season would also help them learn they need to play 32 full minutes.

“Everything was great for three-and-a-half quarters,” he said. “It was just the one half of that one quarter that gave us trouble, but a win is a win.”

Natchez (1-1) will travel to face Vicksburg High School Thursday.

Natchez girls 59, Murrah 53

Nineteen points by Zyaire Ewing and 17 by Keyana Miller led the Natchez High girls to a 59-53 victory over the visitors from Murrah High School.

The two teams traded baskets all night with the Lady Bulldogs taking a 25-19 lead into the break.

Murrah edged closer in the third quarter and had its chances in the final period, before the Lady Bulldogs secured their second win of the season.

“They played pretty well,” head coach Alphaka Moore said. “It was good for the kids to get a win, but we still have some kinks we need to work out. We’re never satisfied and know we can do better.”

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez High School’s Zyaire Ewing grabs a rebound as Murrah High School’s Classie Bradford tries to block her out during the game Tuesday at the high school. Ewing’s 19 points helped Natchez defeat Murrah 59-53.

Moore said a couple of those kinks were missed layups and lack of communication on defense.

Kiana Jones helped Miller and Ewing with 10 points of her own.

The Lady Bulldogs improved to 2-0 on the season and will face Vicksburg on the road Thursday.