Third-rahked Colonels pick up three wins

By Corey McKinney

Copiah basketball teams finally reached the games they had been waiting for, coming last Tuesday, Jan. 7.  The Colonels were set to host the East Rankin Patriots.
In the first quarter, the expectations of this game lived up to what all said it would be. The quarter ended with neither team able to maintain the lead, as it was tied at 12. The second quarter was all about offense, but Copiah just barely outscored their opponents 21-20, giving the Colonels a one point lead at halftime, 33-32.
The Colonels came out of halftime fired up and ready to play, and East Rankin could not stay with the faster Copiah team. Copiah went on a 27-15 run throughout the third quarter, increasing the Colonels’ lead to 60-47. The fourth quarter went in favor of Copiah also, as they outscored the Patriots 27-24. The Colonels broke the tie for first place in the conference, beating East Rankin 87-71.
Copiah’s Trey Moss showed why he is one of the most respected shooters in the league, as he scored 26 points and also collected 3 steals. When Moss was asked about his performance, he said, “We struggled in the first half on offence and defense. On offense, there was not enough ball movement. On defense, we kept losing track of their three point shooters. In the second half, we ran the floor much better. Transition is our biggest threat and we really used it to open up the game.”
Dominic Gilbert recorded a double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Syrshawn Fitch also had 14 points and 5 rebounds. James Andrews also had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Justin Morris had 6 points and Zane Frazier had 3 points.
Moss was also asked about his team’s momentum with this win behind him, and he had this to say, “This game was huge for both teams. Both teams entered the game undefeated in district play. The win gave us ten wins in a row and really built our confidence for the upcoming schedule. Hopefully, we will continue this success.”
Copiah then faced the king of the MAIS, the top- ranked MRA Patriots, two days later.
At the end of the first quarter, Copiah held a 18-13 lead and was playing great. But, a few bad defensive trips, some unlucky rolls and bounces that fell MRA’s way led to the Patriots’ five point, 32-27 lead at halftime. MRA outscored the Colonels 24-18 in the third quarter, which would give the Patriots a 56-45. The Colonels would then outscored MRA in the fourth quarter, but not by enough to get the win. MRA beat the Colonels 68-58, ending the Copiah 10 game winning streak.
Andrews led the Colonels in scoring with 18 points. Andrews also grabbed 9 rebounds. Gilbert had 14 points and 4 steals. Fitch had 13 points and 4 assists. Other scorers for the Colonels were Moss with 5 points, Frazier and Dale Stratton with 3 points each, and Palmer Lea had 2 points.
Copiah hoped to go back to their winning ways as they hosted the Richland High School Rangers last Friday  for the first time in school history, leading to an exciting non-conference atmoshphere.  
Both Copiah and Richland came out of the gates on a roll, but the Colonels that held a 21-18 lead at the end of the first. The second quarter was full of high action and plenty of offense, as Richland outscored Copiah 19-15, giving the Rangers a 37-36 lead at halftime. The Colonels then came out of the break and stuck it to the Rangers, taking a 56-51 lead going into the final stanza. Copiah closed the game out on a 21-18 run, beating a public school for the first time in school history, 77-69.
Andrews led the Colonels to this historic victory with 22 points and 7 steals. Zane Frazier was on fire, shooting 8 for 14 from the field with 19 points. Frazier spoke on his team’s win after the game, “We knew it was the first time hosting a public school, and that it was going to be tough. We knew we were going to have to work hard from the beginning. As the clock was winding down, we realized that we had gotten the job done and gotten the win.” Gilbert contributed well with 15 points and 7 assists.
Other points on the scoreboard for the Colonels came from Fitch with 8 points, Moss with 6 points, Morris with 5 points, and Stratton with 2 points.
Copiah traveled to Columbia to face the Columbia Academy Cougars for the third time this season. But this time, things would be different, as everyone knew what Columbia’s head coach, the legendary Dale Watts, was going to do in order for the Cougars to win: stall. And that is exactly what he did. And for the first quarter, it worked, as Columbia held a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Watts and his Cougars continued this “hold the ball” offense throughout the second quarter, and took a 26-12 lead at the half.
In the third quarter, Columbia stayed with the tactic, but the Colonels finally found a counter punch to it, and slowly began to cut into the Cougar lead. Copiah outscoree their opponent in the third quarter 9-4 cutting the lead to 30-21.
Copiah then had the big quarter they desperately needed, scoring 16 points. The 16 points was not enough to win, but it was enough to tie the game at 37 at the end of regulation.
Copiah finally put an end to the stalling offense, but the game was not over. Neither team scored in the first overtime.  The only points scored in the second overtime were a free throw for both teams, forcing a triple overtime.
Copiah erupted for 14 points, holding Columbia to 8 in the third overtime. Copiah remains undefeated in AAA South, beating Columbia in in a long lasting affair in a hostile environment, 52-46.
Frazier and Gilbert led the comeback with 14 points, respectively. Andrews scored 8 points and collected 2 steals. Moss also had 8 points, all of which came in the third overtime. Fitch had 8 points, and Morris had 2 points.
Gilbert spoke on his team’s tough win over the Cougars, “We did not prepare for the stalling offense as much as we needed to. We put ourselves in a hole early by getting down 14 at the half. But we never gave up, and we hustled hard on defense.  Everyone’s team effort brought us through.”
Gilbert was asked later about his team’s opponents on the upcoming week, “We have already beaten both Lamar and PCS, but we still have to show up and play our hardest every night. ”
Copiah is now 12-8, and 8-0 in the AAA South conference. The Colonels have won 12 of the last 13 games they have played, only losing to MRA in that stretch.
The Colonels traveled to Meridian to play the Lamar Raiders Tuesday, Jan. 14. They will host PCS this Friday, Jan. 17, then they will travel to New Orleans to play St. Thomas More in the New Orleans Arena on Saturday.  After that game, the team will enjoy watching NBA action when the New Orleans Pelicans play against Golden State Warriors.

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