This week’s narrow loss to Obion County wasn’t the best way to follow last weekend’s Thanksgiving tournament championship, University School of Jackson’s George Markos explained, and Friday was the first chance for his team to get on track.
The Bruins did that, never trailing in a 69-60 win over visiting Class AAA member Dyer County.
Central Florida signee Clayton Hughes scored 17 points and Markos added 16 for the Bruins (6-1).
“We wanted the taste out of our mouth and this was a good team to beat,” Markos said. “We didn’t want to come off with two losses, so we came back and we won tonight against a good team.”
USJ coach Oliver Simmons with pleased with his team’s patient passing that not only set up better shots but also used up a little time.
“In my opinion in basketball whoever dictates the pace is going to win the game,” Simmons said. “We played our pace tonight, which is in the 60s, where I think Dyer wants to play in the 80s.
The Bruins had a few turnovers in the backcourt, but they also broke the Choctaws’ press a few times for layups.
“I feel like we handled the pressure really well, and we’ve had trouble in the past at some point handling pressure against some teams like Dyer County in general. They always bring a lot of pressure and we handled it well tonight,” Markos said.
Trailing 31-18 at halftime, Dyer County rallied a bit behind guard Derrion Cliff, who scored 14 points in the period (including four 3s) and finished with 25 points. They cut USJ’s lead to 44-35, but Ryan Davis hit a 3 and Cullen Hughes lobbed a pass to Clayton.
After a Jalil Jackson 3, USJ closed the quarter on a 6-0 run highlighted by Clayton Hughes’ windmill dunk on a runout. Hughes gets a lot of attention as the Division I signee, but the Bruins’ balance should be an asset going forward.
“I hate to single out an individual kid because they’ve all been working hard and doing well,” Simmons said. “But Ryan Davis right now is a kid that does everything I ask. He doesn’t get a lot of the limelight, but he’s scored probably 10 points every time we’ve won a game, and that really sticks out in my mind.”
Brandon Craig and Ryan Davis each scored 10 points Friday for USJ. Holland Hawks had nine, Cullen Hughes four and Harrison Homberg three.
“Of the six wins, probably five of them we’ve had four kids in double figures,” Simmons said. “So the points are spread around, they play well together, they play for each other, and that’s what we’re really trying to get them to buy into this year.”
Vinson Taylor added 14 points for the Choctaws. Jackson had eight and David Ray six.
USJ 59, Dyer County 56
Anna Jones scored 29 points and Taylor Tenpenny added 10 as the Lady Bruins held off Dyer County. Lillie Homberg and Kallie Pickens each scored six.
USJ led 33-22 at halftime, and Dyer County tied the game late but could not get the lead. The Choctaws had two open looks at 3-pointers in the final ten seconds but didn’t make either one.
Courtney Maupin and Olivia Crane each scored 11 for Dyer County.
Craig Thomas, 425-9634