It had all the hype of a heavyweight boxing title match that attracted likely the largest basketball crowd to the Landers Center in years. But in the end, two Memphis basketball recruits were better than one in the game between two of the top boys' basketball teams in the Mid-South.
With Tigers' coach Penny Hardaway in attendance watching from the sideline, newly-committed to the Tigers James Wiseman and Malcolm Dandridge, also a Memphis commit and the Memphis East Mustangs defeated Memphis commit D.J. Jeffries and his Olive Branch Conquistadors 69-50. It was the finale of a three-game "classic" that brought three Memphis schools across the border to take on a talented team from New Orleans, along with last year's Mississippi 5A runner-up Forest Hill and the Quistors, which won the state title last March in Jackson.
Memphis East never trailed in the game and led 17-13 after one quarter and 33-21 at halftime. The Mustangs raised the lead to 20 points at 65-45 at one point in the fourth quarter and coasted the rest of the way, outscoring Olive Branch 21-15 in the final eight minutes.
Wiseman led all scorers for the night with 26 points, followed by Derrein Merriweather with 15. Dandridge completed the trio of players from East in double figures with 14 points in the win.
Cameron Matthews led Olive Branch in scoring with 15 points while Jeffries struggled and finished with 14 points in the loss.
Jeffries, who has played with Wiseman and others at the AAU level, said it was still a good feeling to compete against the Mustangs.
"It was friendly and trying to get the win during the game," Jeffries related afterward. "There's no bad blood between us because we're all family. We played together for two years, so they're family to me, pretty much."
In other Tuesday night basketball action, the Center Hill boys beat Madison Central 76-68 behind Calvin Temple's 25 points, Kaeden Laws' 17 points and Kevin Henry's 15 points in the win.
Horn Lake handled Tupelo 71-58 and Southaven beat Byhalia 79-61 in the other contests played on Tuesday.
Girls' results from Tuesday included Olive Branch over Cordova, Tenn. 65-24, Horn Lake past Tupelo 60-54, DeSoto Central handled North Delta 59-46 and Southaven defeated Byhalia 65-45.
EAGLES, QUISTORS IN NORTH STATE FRIDAY: Two DeSoto County schools are one win away from reaching the MHSAA state football championship game next week, but they will have strong opposition in front of them in their journey.
Horn Lake, unbeaten at 13-0, hosts Madison Central (10-3) to determine who plays either Brandon or Oak Grove for the title.
Meanwhile in MHSAA 5A, it's a rematch of two Region 1-5A teams when Olive Branch travels to defending state champion West Point. The winner gets Picayune or West Jones in the 5A final game.
Friday's game at West Point could have been played in Olive Branch, had the Quistors been able to hold off the Green Wave in the final 30 seconds of their regular season meeting. A strong fourth-quarter comeback by the Wave was completed with a touchdown in the waning moments for a 34-33 West Point victory. It's that win that helped the Green Wave again win the region title and the ability to host the Quistors in the North State contest.
Both games Friday night will start at 7 p.m. in Horn Lake and at West Point.
LAMAR GOES ALL-IVY: Former DeSoto Central standout running back Alan Lamar has received first-team All-Ivy League honors playing for Yale. Lamar rushed for 685 yards in eight games and scored nine touchdowns for the 5-5 Bulldogs. He was the team's freshman MVP, but sat out his sophomore year with a pre-season injury.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribne.