NP vs. Byhalia

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 23, 2009

North Panola boys’ head coach Leroy Boyd, right, questions players as they take a time out. The Panolian photo by Myra Bean

NP squanders lead, game to Byhalia

By Myra Bean

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With 1:48 left in the third quarter, North Panola had a 55-48 lead over the Byhalia Indians in a district rematch Tuesday night. The Byhalia Indians infused its potent pressure defense to retake the lead and win 75-71.

The disappointment in the turnout of the game could be seen on the face of first year head coach Leroy Boyd. His face was a study of “what happened?” as the teams shook hands and left the court.

“I was disappointed because we gave another game away,” Boyd said.

Boyd came to North Panola by way of Palmer in Marks via O’Bannon and St. Joe in Greenville. He has coached girls and boys teams and have taken teams to the state tournament. Boyd is assisted by Keith Thomas, who was at Drew and who also led his teams to the state tournament.

He calls the North Panola boys’ team a “work in progress.” North Panola boys has been through three different coaches the last three years.

“They sometimes revert back to what they have been doing to survive,” Boyd said. “At the end we were playing like we were three points down instead of ahead three points.”

Boyd said he is slowly but surely getting through the older players his system of what to do in tough situations when it is getting late in the game. The older ones are having more trouble adjusting, but Boyd said the younger players are picking up the system.

The nine-point lead, the largest in the game by either team, came on a three-pointer by senior Rodriques Thomas.

The Cougars (7-12 overall, 2-5 district) were down 46-43 with 3:36 left in the third.

Kiwanis Bobo tied the game at 56 on a three at the 2:56 mark. On a steal and subsequent field goal by Darius Loverberry, the Cougars took the lead for only the third time in the game, 48-46 with 2:50 to go.  Byhalia called a timeout to cool the Cougars down at the 2:48 mark. The Cougar defense forced a turnover after the timeout and the offense capitalized scoring on a Bobo jumpshot with 2:19 left. Curtis Arnold got the rebound off a missed Byhalia field goal and Thomas scored the three for the 55-46 lead.

Byhalia started getting back in the game after North Panola went on a 12-0 scoring spree and went on a 6-0 scoring spree to cut the lead 55-52 at the end of the third quarter.

Byhalia scored the first four points on free throws and a field goal to take the lead, 56-55 with 7:21 to go in the game. The teams exchanged the lead four times before Aldrick Russell tied the game at 60 with 5:55 left. The Cougars retook the lead 62-60 on Russell’s field at the 5:08 mark. The game was tied four more times before Bobo’s field goal gave the Cougars a 71-69 lead with 1:26 left in the game. The Cougars were held scoreless after that goal.

Byhalia stole the inbound ball and went ahead for good with 46.8 seconds to go.

The Cougars were down 13-10 after the first quarter and down 37-33 at halftime.

Bobo was the Cougars’ leading scorer with 18 pointsl Also scoring in double figures were Ricky Hunt, 17 points; Russell and Thomas paced with 14 points each. Loveberry chipped in four points, while Wayne Miller added two and Arnold and Cortez Hibbler rounded out the scoring with one point each.

Moria Parker of Byhalia was the leading scorer with 21 points. Four other Indians scored in double figures with 11 points each, Kenyatta Jones, Josh Rogers, Courtney Warren and Cornelius Blackmon.

The Cougar crowd attendance was down at the game. Usually, there is standing room only from the loud crowd that supports the teams. There was plenty of space to be had Tuesday night.

The teams will be back home tonight to host Holly Springs in district action. Both teams lost to Holly Springs at the first meeting December 16. Tuesday, North Panola travels to Lewisburg for district games. Tip off is 6 p.m. With the girls’ games.