The reigning Class 1A boys champion took a big step toward adding another gold ball to the trophy case on Friday morning.
Coldwater (28-3) advanced to its second consecutive title game with a 63-50 victory over Hinds AHS (14-18) at the Mississippi Coliseum. The Cougars withstood a heady second-half effort by Hinds to advance.
“I think the biggest difference was that we made them depend on shooting the ball from outside against us,” said Coldwater coach Wert Spiva, who has won five state championships. “Coming in we knew they liked to attack the basket, and (we) really made it hard for them to do that.”
Coldwater, No. 1 in 1A, will play third-ranked Biggersville in a rematch of last year’s 1A championship game on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.
To set up the rematch, Coldwater led its entire semifinal game against Hinds, and built up a big 14-point lead heading into halftime. The lead gave the Cougars a “little opportunity to get some separation,” according to Spiva, but Hinds rallied in the second half.
The Bulldogs outscored the Cougars 14-6 in the third quarter to cut the lead to six heading into the fourth quarter.
“We’ve been down so much this year that we’ve been accustomed to that, but the third quarter was maybe our best quarter,” said Hinds coach Keith Williams. “I just told the guys we were going to get it back one play at a time. We’ve been here before we just need to get it back.”
The Bulldogs got as close as 46-42 with 6:20 left, but a crucial turnover allowed the Cougars to begin pulling away. Coldwater senior guard Marcel Newson took over the game at that point, scoring 12 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter.
“He stepped up,” Spiva said. “He was about our only offense going down on that stretch when they made that run. We were sort of stagnant. He sort of took it upon himself to do what a senior is supposed to do.”
Said Williams: “He’s a tough little cookie. Trying to neutralize him just wasn’t as effective as we wanted it to be. He made some plays and that’s what good players do.”
Senior Kaleb Williams led Hinds with 15 points.