In the inaugural Zaxby’s Thanksgiving Tournament, the home team University School of Jackson brought home the trophy on both the girls’ and boys’ side.
After beating Jackson Central-Merry on Friday, USJ’s boys beat Gibson County 79-65 in the championship game on Saturday.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” USJ coach Oliver Simmons said. “This goes back to the work they put in through the summer and preseason all the way up to now.”
Bruin senior Clayton Hughes, a Central Florida signee, scored 24 points in the first half, missing one shot. Hughes was 7-of-8 from 2-point range, 1-for-1 from 3-point and 7-for-7 from the free throw, and he threw down two dunks along the way.
Gibson County (4-1) had a lead late in the first quarter, but two Hughes free throws and a 3-pointer by Ryan Davis put USJ (5-0) back up.
The Pioneers were cold from outside of the arc in the second quarter, hitting two of their eight attempts, and USJ made sure to keep Gibson County off the glass by boxing out and grabbing rebounds.
The Bruins had seven defensive rebounds in the first half.
A Pierce Holt jumper cut USJ’s lead back to two points (28-26) with 4:02 until halftime, but two Hughes baskets and another Davis 3-pointer put the Bruins back up by nine.
Mac Hicks got hot in the fourth quarter with six 3-pointers to cut the USJ lead down to 11, but the Pioneers couldn’t get any closer.
Hicks was named to the all-tournament team with 27 points.
Hughes finished with 35 points on 11-of-14 shooting from the field and an 11-of-14 mark from the free throw line. Brandon Craig added 15 points, George Markos had 14 points and Davis had 10 points.
“That was a quiet 35 for Hughes tonight,” Simmons said. “He is understanding that he has a team around him with talent. As long as the guys accept their role on the team, we will go far.
“This is the third or fourth game already that we have had four kids in double figures.”
The Lady Bruins (6-0) kept their undefeated record intact with three wins in the girls’ tournament to win the title over Briarcrest.
USJ also beat Jackson Central-Merry and Bolton along the way.
Anna Jones led the Lady Bruins with 28 points in the championship, and Jones was named the tournament MVP. Ashton Hulme added 11 and was named to the all-tournament team.
The Lady Bruins kept Briarcrest out of its half-court offense with pressure defense. USJ forced Briarcrest into multiple turnovers in the three quarters to jump out to a 46-24 lead with eight minutes to play.
Briarcrest was held to single-digit scoring in each of the first three quarters.
Morgan Hunt led Briarcrest with 15 points, and she was also named to the all-tournament team.
>> Injury update: After the scare of Friday night, the end result was good news for Gibson County senior Briana Fields.
Fields was taken off the court on a stretcher on a backboard with a neck brace on Friday night with 5:19 left in the fourth quarter against South Side after an intentional foul.
According to Gibson County coach Mitch Wilkins, the CAT Scans Friday night came back normal.
“She had some tingling in her arm, and they decided to be safe rather than take a chance,” Wilkins said.
Fields woke up with some soreness in her neck on Saturday, and Wilkins said Fields as day-to-day right now. She scored 16 points Saturday night against Houston County.
Michael Odom, 425-9754