It came down to the final few minutes when Lee Academy hosted Tunica Academy in basketball Friday night.
The Blue Devils (4-0) overcame adversity in the second half when coach Jeff Dalton got ejected to defeat the Colts (0-2) 71-65.
The two schools split their varsity games for the night as the Fillies (3-1) easily defeated the Lady Devils (2-4) 51-31.
Almonzo Payne Jr. led the Blue Devils in the boys game with 21 points scoring six of them in the fourth quarter. Omarion Griffin had 17 and seven of them came in the fourth quarter including a 3-point field goal.
Dalton was proud of the way the boys rallied after his ejection.
“I don’t usually say anything about officials, but that was one of the worst officiated games I’ve ever been a part of,” Dalton said. “My guys showed me a lot when they battled through it.”
Dalton said he and Lee coach Michael Peckham had a conversation about the poor officiating in the boys and girls game.
“I’ll leave coach’s conversations to coach’s conversation,” Peckham said. “I’m not going to comment on the officiating because that’s just not my place as a coach to do that. I will say this. The game was very physical.”
DJ Vassel led Lee Academy with 26 points followed by Bryan Ray with 14.
Dalton elaborated on his issues with the officiating.
“They called a lot of fouls that weren’t fouls,” he said. “You’ve got to let the kids play. When the officials on display, something is wrong. That was a good game. It should have been a lot better game, but they wouldn’t let the kids.
“You don’t ‘T’ a kid up when he makes a layup running down the court being happy putting his hands up. That does not warrant a technical foul.
“At some point, you have to fight for your team and that’s basically what I did. I thought we were being bullied a little by one official and so I took up for my team. I’m not proud of the fact that I got ejected, but, hey, it happens.”
Monterrius Woods had 10 points for Tunica Academy, Rashad Ladd and Paul Pickett Jr. had eight each, Terrence Tanna Jr. had three, and Jayshun Miles and Curt Berry had two each.
Peckham said the boys game was highly contested.
“Maybe I’m wrong for saying this, but this was like a public school game,” Peckham said. “It was very physical. It was end to end and it was great competition, but the emotion for both sides sometimes got the best of them and so therefore you had the technical fouls and things. I don’t ever like to see my kids getting technical fouls and saying things they shouldn’t say and they apologized to be said, ‘My bad.’ But that’s also we’re a young team mixed in with a couple of seniors. But really I’m replacing everybody but DJ in the lineup this year and Chris (Butler). So when you really are looking at kids that were four-year starters for me, it’s a lot to fill those shoes.”
Luke Crumpton had eight points for Lee, Chandler Wells had seven, Chris Butler had five and Aidan Byrd had one.
In the girls game, Lee closed out the first quarter with a 19-2 run to take a 21-7 lead going into the second quarter.
Emily Moser, who finished with 14 points, had three fouls early and had to sit most of the second quarter.
“Emily, I think is feeling a little bit of pressure just because, again, we replaced four starters,” Peckham said. “Again, she’s kind of feeling like there’s pressure on her to do more than she needs to do at times. She’s learning how to do it. We’re learning how to play as a different type of team, but running the same stuff that I run.”
Nyriah Artis led Lee with 15 points, Faith Carter Bailey had six, Merri Evelyn Evans had three, Meri Hollis Lawrence had two, Maggie Etheridge had six, Dre’Terria Maiden had one, and Tamaria Edwards had four.
“We upset them in a preseason tournament,” Dalton said. “We knew it was an upset. We knew it was going to be a tough one coming in here. They were just a better team tonight hands down. The officiating was bad on both ends in that game also, but they were the better team tonight hands down. We could not get shots to fall. That’s kind of what happened when we played them the first time. Nothing fell for them. They’ve got more talent than we’ve got. They made shots. We didn’t.”
Taylor Sexton had six points for Tunica Academy, Sarah Goff had five, Emily Coats had three, Addison McIver had three, Sophie Dalton had five, Dobbs Roberts had two and Hallie White had seven.
Lee hosts Magnolia Heights School Monday, Nov. 30 with games starting at 3 p.m. The varsity games are expected to start around 6 p.m.
Tunica Academy is scheduled to host Marshall Academy Tuesday, Dec. 1.