The Coahoma County Red Panthers only led for 4.8 seconds at cross-town rival Clarksdale High School in the two teams’ season opener Saturday afternoon.
Those 4.8 seconds were the final ones the MHSAA basketball Class 2A state champion Red Panthers came from behind to win 55-53.
CCHS senior wing Jermel Daniels, who finished with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds broke a tie by taking the ball to the basket for the layup with 4.8 seconds remaining the fourth quarter to give his team the lead.
Sophomore point guard Cameron Bell tied the game at 53-53 with 28.8 seconds remaining on a 3-pointer for the Red Panthers. Bell finished with nine points on three 3-points – one in the third quarter and two in the fourth.
“It’s going to take some time for this group,” said CCHS coach Derrick Moore. “That’s a whole new group out there, just like last year. It’s just going to take time. These games are practice for us until the district time. We’re learning what we can learn on the fly and we build on it, but it’s just going to take time.”
The Wildcats jumped out to a 10-0 lead to start the game, but Moore said his defense was the key to coming back.
“I’ve got some guys that can really lock up on the perimeter out there,” Moore said.
Red Panthers senior wing Amarian Phillips helped cut into the first-half deficit with three 3-pointers of his own – one in the first quarter and two in the second.
Devontae Halbert led Clarksdale with 17 points including 10 in the fourth quarter. He connected on two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and one in the third.
“He gave up a lot of points defensively, too, so that doesn’t mean anything,” said Clarksdale coach Farrington Hill. “You can go out and score 40 points, but if you give up 50, that doesn’t mean anything.”
Dave Wilson had all nine of his points for Clarksdale in the first half. Markevious Jackson had six of his 12 points for Clarksdale in the first half.
“We shouldn’t have been in this situation anyway,” Hill said. “We should have closed the game out.
“We played good defense in spurts, but then we had this breakdown, just mental lapse, out there playing with the ball and unforced turnovers. We didn’t play good at all.”
Sophomore wing Demarjay Rucker had nine points for Coahoma County, junior center Tyler Martin had 10 and senior wing Anthony Williams also had six.
Zachery McNutt had three points for Clarksdale and Gregory Neely had five.
Lady Red Panthers
dominate Lady Wildcats
The Clarksdale High School girls were dominant in every area of the game at home against Coahoma County Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Wildcats cruised to a 49-13 victory.
Clarksdale pulled away outscoring Coahoma County 25-1 during the second quarter to take a 32-4 halftime lead.
The Lady Red Panthers did not make any field goals during the first half of the game.
Coahoma County had seven team fouls in the first quarter, while Clarksdale had five. That meant anytime Coahoma County committed a foul going into the second quarter, Clarksdale went to the free-throw line.
Clarksdale coach Greg Wilson said that could have been part of the reason his team jumped out to a huge lead in the second quarter.
“We’re really just trying to stay in front of them,” Wilson said. “They’re really big. We’re just trying to front the post and rob the lob pass on the backside. That worked some and we were able to put a little pressure up top and able to get a couple turnovers.”
CCHS coach Derrick Moore felt his girls will improve, but right now, they need a lot of work.
“It has nothing to do with foul trouble,” Moore said. “We aren’t ready yet. They’re a much better ball team than we are. We’re just not ready with the girls.”
Clarksdale senior guard and forward Alexis Moore led the team with 17 points, while senior guard Jermiya Wright had nine.
CCHS senior center T'yana McClenton had four points.
Clarksdale had five team steals.
“The girls came out and we kind of had an idea of what we wanted to do,” Wilson said. “We just really wanted to come out tonight and play. We’re ready to go back and watch the film and grade the girls on what they were able to do. They played hard tonight, so I’m glad they played hard. I’m glad to get the victory for the first win of the season.
“We’re trying to hang our hat on defense, just be a good defensive team and fundamentally sound.”
While the CCHS girls were the state runner-ups one year ago, Moore acknowledged 2020-21 will have some growing pains.
“It’s going to be a year for the girls,” Moore said. “When you lose your point guard and another one right before the season starts, it hurts.”