The Dyer County Choctaws came into Friday's night contest against division rival Munford on the heels of a 17-game winning streak including two impressive victories last week at the Penny Hardaway Hoopfest. After the big tournament victories and a break in action due to the ice storm earlier this week that canceled a game against Memphis University School, the Choctaws played a close contest but ultimately lost their second game of the season 76-70.
"This is our first loss to Munford in seven years," said head coach Derek McCord. "For whatever reason we didn't come out ready to play."
The game opened up well for the Choctaws (18-2, 3-1) as they took the opening tip and scored the first points of the contest. Although the Cougars kept close throughout the quarter, Dyer County held the lead until near the end of the quarter when Munford's Kameron Foster hit a big three with 30 seconds left to give Munford its first lead 15-13.
In the second quarter it was Marqueston "Bubba" Bostic's turn to dazzle as the Choctaw senior scored the first seven points in the quarter, allowing Dyer County to regain a 20-15 lead. Munford was able to contain the prolific Robert Hubbs III giving Bostic opportunities at the basket that he was happy to take advantage of. Bostic had a game-high 27 points including 13 points in the second quarter alone.
"Bubba Bostic has been tremendous in both Munford games scoring 50 points in both contests combined," said McCord. "He single-handedly kept us in it when the game could have gotten out of hand."
The battle remained close at halftime as Munford (10-10, 3-2) took a 32-31 lead into the locker room. The two squads continued to play hard and the second half saw an endless number of lead changes, but halfway through the fourth quarter Munford began to distance itself from the Choctaws, opening up an eventual 17 lead on their way to victory. Dyer County found itself unable to stop Munford's Jonathan Stark in the fourth quarter, as he accounted for 10 of his 25 points in the final period. Three other Cougar players joined him in double figures.
"We had no answer for Jonathan Starks," said McCord. "When he wasn't creating his own shots, he was dumping it in the middle to (Kylon) Hall. We had no presence in the middle to answer for Hall."
For Dyer County Hubbs finished with 20 points and added 11 rebounds to his stats as well as three steals. Malik Pugh also finished in double figures with 12 points.
The end result of the game sets up high energy for a potential rematch in the district tournament next month, which is to be held at Munford. The atmosphere in the gymnasium on Friday night was highly charged with minor incidents in the stands that had to be addressed by security. The Choctaw nation left disappointed in the outcome and unhappy about the officiating in the game, which included a questionable foul in the third quarter initially charged to Munford on the near sideline, which was then overruled and charged to Dyer County by the official on the far sideline.
"Hopefully this is a good wakeup call for our guys," said McCord. "There was a lot of talking during and after the game. I hope all the taunting and talking they did toward our players will increase our focus and motivate us the next time we see them."
Dyer County 28, Munford 54
In the girls contest, the Lady Choctaws lost their third game in a row to drop to 12-7 on the year and 2-2 in the district. The Dyer County girls lost to district leader Munford 54-28 in a contest that wasn't even close from the beginning. The new year has been unkind to the Lady Choctaws as the squad has yet to win in 2013.
"The Munford girls came out hot," said McCord. "We put ourselves in a pickle early in the game and for whatever reason we were intimidated by them."
The Munford Lady Cougars opened the contest by scoring the first 14 points in the game and never let up on their district foe. The Lady Choctaws were unable to stop Munford's barrage of three's as the Lady Cougars hit seven baskets from beyond the arc in the first half alone. Dyer County struggled to make shots, as they were 13 of 38 from the floor and 0 for 8 from downtown. Dyer County also only had six opportunities from the charity stripe, capitalizing on only two. The most glaring statistic of the game was turnovers as Munford only turned over the ball four times compared to Dyer County's 21 turnovers, many of which resulted in quick points for the Lady Cougars.
"When you go on the road in District 13AAA you have to be focused and ready to play," said McCord. "For the first time this season we played like freshmen and sophomores. We have to play with more composure."
Sara Owen was the Lady Choctaws' leading scorer with eight points followed by Olivia Crane with five points, and Eeonna Jackson and Haley Hicks each tying for four points. Makayla Enochs, who came in with four consecutive double-double performances, was contained to just two points and six rebounds. The Lady Cougars improved to 18-4 on the year and are undefeated in district play.
The Choctaws and Lady Choctaws are home next Tuesday as they take on Brighton. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.