Saline boys wins Neil Kilgore Tourney; QHS girls split pair

What a difference a week makes! The Bobcats of Saline entered the annual Neil Kilgore Tournament hosted by Cedar Creek High School with the worst record of any of the participating boy’s teams. They left as the victors after winning three games in three days.

The rags to riches tournament victory climaxed what has turned out the most productive six day period for Bobcat basketball since before head coach Klint Robinson took over the program nearly a decade ago and saw Saline go from 1-9 to 6-9. To find a time frame of victories comparable you would have to go all the way back to the 1990’s when Saline played a game seemingly every day and routinely won 50 55 games in a season. The only recent time that likens to Saline winning five games in six days was in 2017 when the Bobcats won the same amout in 7 days. 

What makes the run of victories even more impressive is that they have come after starting the season by losing nine of their first ten games. While the tournament victory and now five-game winning streak may be surprising to some, head coach Klint Robinson is not one of them, citing that they way the team responded in practices during the Thanksgiving Holiday break that his squad was on the verge of turning the corner.  

“We had been giving up a lot of points before the break but in our first game back which was against Arcadia in the Bienville Parish Tournament last weekend our guys really got after it,” said Robinson. “We didn’t win that one but they executed our full-court press better and that has carried over this week.”

The result is ikn the six games played in December, Saline has held their opponent to less than 50 points. This is being accomplished  through the use of a trapping 1-2-1-1 defensive set that has wreaked havoc on their opponents. Another factor is the marksmanship displayed at the foul line, especially late in games. In first and second round of the tournament, Saline scored all but two points in each game from the foul line in the final quarter to turn back strong bids by their opponents to rally. 

Saline 48 Cedar Creek 47: (boys) The strategy to force Saline to the charity stripe seemed to be a good one in the first three quarters as the Bobcats made only 9 of 24 but with the balance of the game on the line the Bobcats made 16 of 23 of the freebies. Eighth grader, Gavon Dailey, hit 7 of 9 free throws down the stretch, Wesley Crawford was a perfect 4 for 4, Shawn Staggs sank 3 of 4 and Will Dyson made both of his on the night the Bobcats were sent to the line an amazing 45 times. The production offset five three-pointers, including three in the final frame by Davis Walsworth, who led the  3-3 Cougars with 21 points. 

Saline 17 31 48
Cedar Creek 14 36 47
(SHS Scoring) Dailey 13, Crwaford 12, Staggs 11, Dison 7, Rager-Radley 4, Williams 2 (CCHS Scoring) Walsworth 21, Osborne 11, Norris 6, Echols 6, Johnson 4

Saline 48 Haynesville 40: (boys) Saline continued their suffocating defensive pressure as they held Haynesville, who was playing their first game of the year, to single digits in three of the four quarters. The Bobcats gradually built a lead over each of the first three quarters to take a 37-26 lead into the final frame as Will Dison canned three trey’s in the first half and led Saline in scoring with 15 points. D.J. Rager-Ridley finished with 13 and Gavon Dailey added 10 followed by Wesley Crawford with five, Shawn Staggs with three, and Maddox Williams with two. 

TEAM 1 2 3 4 FINAL
Saline 12 11 14 11 48
Haynesville 9 8 9 14 40
SHS Scoring: Dison 15, Rager-Ridley 13, Dailey 10, Crawford 5, Staggs 3, Williams 2

Saline 48 Calvin 41 (boys): In the title game staged between the two smallest schools entered in the tourney, Saline broke open a one-point game at the half by limiting the defending Class C state runner-up to just one field goal the entire second half while scoring eight baskets and adding six free throws. Kenton Lee Crawford and Gavon Dailey kept Saline in it early by combining for 19 first-half points of their collective 23 points in the game. In the second half, it was Shawn Staggs and Maddox Williams who made all eight and four of their points along with Will Dyson and D.J. Rager-Ridley who added four of his six and three of five total points in the second half that kept Calvin at bay.

TEAM 1 2 3 4 TOTAL
Saline (6-9) 12 13 10 13 48
Calvin (9-5) 13 13 8 7 41
SHS Scoring: Crawford 13, Dailey 11, Staggs 8, Dison 6, Reger-Ridley 5, Williams 4, Jones 2, Lard 1

Calvin 65 Quitman 53: (boys) After being tied 29 apiece at the half, Calvin raced to a 23-5 third-quarter advantage to gain revenge for a loss to the Wolverines just three days prior and send Quitman packing after first-round action. QHS jumped out to a 7-1 lead but then went cold as they finished the night by connecting on just 17 of 59 of their field goals, 6 of 25 three-pointers and 57 % from the foul line, making just 13 of 23 charity shots. Logan Ponder led the Wolverines with 14 points, Gavyn Caskey scored 12 and Blake Carter added 10 to go along with a team high 9 rebounds. Eli Walker chipped in with five and Riley Duck scored two for the 8-5 Wolverines.  

TEAM 1 2 3 4 TOTAL
Quitman (8-5) 11 18 5 20 53
Calvin (10-4) 8 21 23 18 65
QHS Scoring: Ponder 1, Caskey 12, Carter 10, Walker 5, Duck 2

Quitman Girls split pair of games 

For the Lady Wolverines, the Neil Kilgore Tourney was a tale of opposite extremes. In the first contest, a 52-15 victory over Haynesville, the defense gave up the second-fewest points they have all season and the least since the opening game of the year. In the second game, it was Quitman having a hard time finding the range, managing to score only a season-low 25 points against Class 5A Haughton, the fifth higher classified team played in the last six games. 

Quitman 52 Haynesville 15: The Lady Wolverines raced out to a commanding 19-0 advantage and then coasted home with their 10th win of the year. At the half, it was 38-6 and by the end of the third period, the score was 47-10 as Haynesville fell to 2-7 on the season in their ninth straight tournament game. Cali Deal led Quitman with 13 points and five rebounds while Brayli Stewart add ten points and four assists. Bethany and Anna Leach scored 8 and 6 respectively while Summer Grillette added four points and a season-best 6 steals. Emma Carter also scored four, Ava Cannerdy three, and both AJ Gray and Ava Caskey had two apiece. 

TEAM 1 2 3 4 TOTAL
Quitman (10-3) 19 17 9 5 52
Haynesville (2-7) 0 6 4 5 15
QHS Scoring: Deal 13, Stewart 10, B. Leach 8, A. Leach 6, Grillette 4, Carter 4, Cannerdy 3, Gray 2, Caskey 2

Haughton 45 Quitman 25:  An 8-6 Haughton lead turned into a 32-11 halftime deficit for Quitman that ballooned to 41-14 by the end of three. The culprit was faulty shooting as Quitman managed to make just 8 of 58 field goals and 6 of 20 free throws against the Class 5A school that improved to 10-3 on the year. Cali Deal had a “double-double” with 13 points and 13 rebounds and Bethany Leach scored 7. AJ Gray and Emma Carter made two points each and Summer Grillette added a free throw to go along with 6 boards and three steals. 

Quitman (10-4) 11 14 25
Haughton (10-3) 32 13 45
QHS Scoring: Deal 13, B. Leach 7, Gray 2, Carter 2, Grillette 1

Haughton 59 Saline 32: The twin sisters Alaya and Alana Gray both hit a three-pointer each in the first quarter to pace Saline to a 12-10 advantage but the bigger Class 5A foe used their height and depth advantage to win the final three frames by a 49-20 margin and win going away. The loss stretched the current losing streak to ten straight and dropped Saline to 1-11 on the year. Alaya Gray led Saline with 11 followed by Cenada Weathers with six. Alana Gray added five, Kasidy Sims 4, Tyla Malone 3, and both X Lard and Sydney Thomas finished with two each. 

TEAM 1 2 3 4 TOTAL
Saline 12 7 8 5 32
Haughton 10 15 19 15 59
SHS Scoring: Alaya Gray 11, Weathers 6, Alana Gray 5, Sims 4, Malone 3, Lard 2, Thomas 2

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