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DCHS boys, Horn Lake Girls survive upset-minded openers

HORN LAKE—As the pressure began to increase inside of the Horn Lake gymnasium the senior-laden DeSoto Central basketball team made the plays it needed to go down the stretch to secure a 87-81 victory over the Eagles in the district opener Friday.

Jaguar Seniors Randy Brown and Ricky Johnson combined to score 15 points in the final quarter to fend off an up-start Horn Lake team, who cut the lead to three points with a minute to play after trailing by as much as 16 in the first half, and were down by 10 at halftime.

“It was a great team win, and I think our juniors and sophomores carried us in the first half, and our seniors finished them off in the second effort,” DeSoto Central head coach Ron Wilson said.

Brown finished with 29 points (11-of-14 from the free throw line) as the Jaguars, who have made 200 more free throws than their opponents have attempted for the season, made 32-of-41 from the charity stripe as a team. Horn Lake made 13-of-21.

With 1:15 seconds to play, trailing by three points the Eagles forced the Jaguars into a turnover, and an Eagle player fell on top of the ball, but was unable to secure possession. Horn Lake head coach Tori Harris allowed a jump ball to be called with possession to DeSoto Central rather than burn his final timeout.

The Jaguars were able to run nearly 30 seconds off the clock before Brown was fouled and made both free throws.

“The last four minutes we were not able to get any good shots out of any of our possessions,” Horn Lake head coach Tori Harris said. “At the end we fell apart.”

The Eagles were able to extend the game, down 85-81 with 30 seconds to play out of the final time out. Harris called for a two point play in the huddle, but Malik Hawkins pulled up for a 3-pointer instead of driving to the basket, and was stripped by Jaguar point guard Mark Partee.

Horn Lake (12-3, 0-1) was led by junior Sebastian Petty who scored 26 points (two 3-pointers), and Hawkins added 17 points of his own.

“It is a growing experience for us,” Harris said. “Hopefully next year we will be better, and as the season goes on we should continue to improve. We found out a lot about ourselves and some guys are ready to contribute. We’ll learn to value possessions and get stronger with the ball.”

Junior DeSoto Central forward Nathan Turner got his first career start with Quinton Thompson unavailable with a family obligation, and carried the Jags (19-1, 1-0) in the first half, scoring 11 of his 17 points before halftime.

“I challenged Nathan, and gave him the opportunity. I think he got a little winded playing so many minutes, but he also pulled down key rebounds (in the second half), and had some big blocks.”

Desoto Central opened the game on a 8-to-2 burst, but Horn Lake’s trade mark full-court press forced the Jags into turnovers and took a 23-21 lead early in the second half.

“We like to play like that, but we didn’t think it was going to be that up and down,” Wilson said. “We thought we might match-up with them a little better defensively.”

The Jaguars answered by hitting three 3-pointers during a 17-0 run mid-way through the second quarter.

“These are wins you have to have,” Wilson said. “It was a complete team effort, and I’m really proud of our guys for coming out prepared and staying focused.”

Girls: Horn Lake 59 DeSoto Central 20

The Lady Eagles showed no signs of slowing down on their drive to a third consecutive appearance in the 6A state championship game in the opening game of district play, with a 59-20 victory over DeSoto Central.

Horn Lake (13-0) dominated from the opening tip, building a 10-0 lead in the opening minutes, and taking a 21-4 at the end of the first quarter.

The Lady Jags (11-5) were able to cut into the lead in the second quarter to make it 26-13 at halftime.

“I wasn’t happy heading into halftime, but the girls did an excellent job coming out after the break and picked up, played a lot stronger and more focused,” Horn Lake head coach Janna Lyons said.

Horn Lake outscored DeSoto Central 18-4 in the third quarter, and with an 44-18 lead entering the final quarter Lyons was able to rest some of her starters. Three players scored a team high nine points for Horn Lake: Alondrea Rush, Brittany Grant, and Alexyse Thomas. Rush and Grant came off the bench.

“We were able to get girls some experience that we might need down the road, and it helps morale and makes them feel good about things,” Lyons said.

Horn Lake will host Southaven next Friday in match-up of two of the top 6A programs in the state.

Source: http://desototimes.com/articles/2012/01/07/sports/doc4f07cf8213b9c962961332.txt

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