Two DeSoto County teams made their respective state basketball tournaments this weekend and a third possibility remains with a scheduled Saturday contest postponed to Monday night by the threat of severe weather.
The Olive Branch boys will return to Jackson and play Wayne County in the MHSAA 5A state quarterfinals Friday afternoon at 4 p.m., after the Conquistadors took a 61-46 victory from visiting Holmes County Central Saturday night in a second-round game at the Olive Branch gymnasium.
Meanwhile on Friday night, the Northpoint Christian School girls qualified for their sixth straight TSSAA Division II-A state semifinal appearance on Thursday afternoon in Nashville with a convincing 71-39 win over Chattanooga Christian School in the state quarterfinals at the Northpoint gymnasium.
The Lady Trojans meet Webb School of Knoxville in the state semifinals at 1:15 p.m. Thursday afternoon at Allen Arena in Nashville, on the Lipscomb University campus.
For Olive Branch, Coach Eric Rombaugh’s Quistors will look to do what it could not do last season as a 6A school, which is advance past the state first round into the Final Four. Brandon took out the Quistors in last year’s 6A quarterfinals by a 71-64 score.
“We done a lot to get back there (to Jackson),” Rombaugh said. “These kids are a little bit tougher, a little bit smarter, a little bit more seasoned. We’ve been through a lot and we’re happy to be back.”
Holmes County Central, which arrived Friday with a girls team that played a second round game at Center Hill that night and avoided Saturday’s rainy weather, was held to five points in the second quarter and trailed Olive Branch 28-12 at halftime.
While the Jaguars tried to stay with Olive Branch in the second half, a balanced scoring attack from the Quistors kept Holmes County Central from getting any closer than 13 points the rest of the game.
Kelvin Allen scored all of his game-high 16 points in the second half for Olive Branch, including nine in the final quarter. D.J. Jeffries scored 15 points with 11 of that total coming in the first half.
Rombaugh singled out Allen for also making 10 steals to go with his scoring effort.
Joe Cooper and Josh Stephenson each added 10 points in the victory, making for four players scoring in double figures for Olive Branch.
“They’re moving the ball, they’re sharing the ball,” said Rombaugh. “We’ve gotten to a point with this team that it doesn’t matter a whole lot who scores.”
Olive Branch’s quarterfinal opponent Friday afternoon at Mississippi Coliseum will be a Wayne County team that defeated Wingfield 54-44 in a second-round game Saturday night and improved to 16-12 for the season.
Friday night, Northpoint senior forward Jade Wells nearly outscored the entire Chattanooga Christian School (CCS) team. Wells dominated the inside for the 29-2 Lady Trojans with 37 points, including 16 in the third quarter alone.
“I’ve never seen a player play with more effort,” said Coach Barry Gray about Wells Friday night.
After taking a 27-15 lead at halftime, Northpoint broke the game open in the second half, outscoring the Chargers 44-24.
Along with Wells, Lauren Gross scored 13 points for Northpoint in the victory.
“We’re real hard to score against,” said Coach Barry Gray. “This team is about half court defense and rebounding, and we’re pretty good at it.”
Northpoint may have gotten a bit of extra guidance from school President Emeritus David Manley, who spoke to the team for its pre-game devotional Friday night, said Gray.
“It was powerful,” Gray said of Manley’s words. “I really think it got the attention to detail and was about persevering through all adversity that life may bring.”
Thursday’s opponent, Webb School of Knoxville (20-9), made the state semifinals with an easy 40-19 victory over Christ Presbyterian Academy of Nashville. Webb is another perennial visitor to the state semifinals, having won five state titles since 2007, including back-to-back crowns in 2014 and 2015.
As Olive Branch and Northpoint Christian saw their respective seasons continue, the end of the line happened for the Center Hill boys Saturday, along with the Horn Lake and Center Hill girls on Friday night.
The Center Hill boys lost in its MHSAA 5A second round appearance at Saltillo, as the Tigers won 70-57. Saltillo led 43-38 at halftime.
Brien Kimmons led the Mustangs in scoring with 20 points, but Kentrell Dorsey was held to 12 points as the only players in double figures for Center Hill, which ended the season 22-10.
Friday night, the Center Hill girls saw their season end with a 53-42 loss to Holmes County Central, which improved to 25-6 with the win. The Lady Mustangs finished their year 14-17.
At the same time, Horn Lake fell in its attempt at returning to the state 6A tournament, as Tupelo claimed a 43-38 victory. The Lady Wave held at 28-24 lead after three quarters. Ta’Kedra Harris and Kealy Wilson led the Lady Eagles with 10 points each.
Southaven and Madison Central boys did not even try to play Saturday, as their 6A second round meeting was postponed early Saturday afternoon to Monday night on the threat of severe weather, even before actual watches and warnings were issued later in the day.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.