Local teams enter win-or-go home region quarterfinals

Friday, February 23, 2018

JASON PEEVYHOUSE

jpeevyhouse@stategazette.com

With tournaments done in District 13AA and 13AAA, the Road to Murfreesboro and the TSSAA Basketball State Tournament kicks into high gear on Friday and Saturday as girls and boys teams from Dyersburg and Dyer County enter region tournament action with their seasons on the line.

In region tournament action, both the quarterfinals and the semifinals are elimination games as only two of the eight teams in the bracket will move on to substate action the first Saturday and Monday in March.

Girls quarterfinal action kicks off tonight with two games locally, both tipping off at 7 p.m. as the Lady Choctaws and Lady Trojans will each host opening-round action in Newbern and Dyersburg respectively.

Both girls games tonight are rematches of region quarterfinal action from last season as both Dyersburg and Dyer County’s girls will be looking to avenge season-ending losses from last February when the games tip off.

The Lady Choctaws open the Region 7AAA semifinals and will host Bolton in a rematch of last year’s 66-62 Lady Wildcat win in Newbern.

Meanwhile, the Lady Trojans also look to advance to the Region 7AA semifinals for the second time in three years as they take on Lexington for the second straight season in the quarterfinals. This time, the game will be on Dyersburg’s home court as the black and gold girls look to avenge their 51-48 loss to the Lady Tigers in Lexington 364 days ago.

The following night, both Dyer County and Dyersburg’s boys team will open their respective Region 7 tournaments as each put their season on the line for the first time in the postseason.

The No. 3-ranked Trojans will be at home for the second straight year as they host Jackson North Side in the first round of the Region 7AA Tournament tipping off at 7 p.m. in the Terry Glover Gymnasium.

Dyer County’s boys will be on the road in the quarterfinal round of the Region 7AAA Tournament for the first time during head coach Derek McCord’s tenure as they travel to Bartlett for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s quartet of games.

Bolton girls at Dyer County, tonight, 7 p.m.

All four local teams will put their seasons on the line over the next two nights as three of them will be at home for their region quarterfinal openers. Above, Dyer County head coach Derrick McCord (center) goes over the practice plan on Thursday morning. Dyer County will host Bolton tonight at 7 p.m.
State Gazette photo/Jason Peevyhouse

In one of two rematches from regional quarterfinal action from last season on tonight’s schedule, the Lady Choctaws host the Lady Warriors tonight in Newbern.

Coming out of Monday afternoon’s disappointing loss to Munford in the District 13AAA Championship game, Dyer County head coach Derek McCord sees one area where his team will need to improve if they want to keep their season going with a win tonight.

“Hopefully, we can make shots,” McCord said. “We really struggled the other night against Munford.

“We went 2-for-19 from the three. We’ve got to make shots.”

The Lady Choctaws’ head coach added the more the team makes shots, it leads to more success with their press defense, which makes good things happen for the team.

“We’ve got to play smart,” McCord said. “We’ve got to make good decisions and stay out of foul trouble.”

Dyer County has already seen Bolton once this year, having faced them in the Martin Lions Club Christmas Tournament back in December.

“They’re very athletic and they’re always athletic,” McCord said. “And, they’ll play hard.”

However, as McCord points out, two teams can meet during the regular season and postseason last year with differing results.

“I don’t really put a lot of stock in that early matchup,” McCord said. “It’ll be a tough game for us.”

Lexington girls at Dyersburg, tonight, 7 p.m., at Dyersburg High School

Dyersburg head coach Joel Ayers gets his players in position. The Lady Trojans open their Region 7AA journey tonight when they play host to Lexington at 7 p.m.
State Gazette photo/Jason Peevyhouse

Another local girls squad looking to avenge a quarterfinal loss from last season is Dyersburg and the Lady Trojans will get the chance to do so on their home court as they host Lexington tonight to get the Region 7AA tournament underway.

Dyersburg has already played Lexington earlier this season – winning 54-42 on the Lady Tigers home floor – which gives the Lady Trojans and head coach Joel Ayers something to look at in preparation for tonight’s win-or-go-home matchup.

“It was a tight ballgame and very close,” Ayers said. “We made some free throws down the stretch.

“It was a battle. They’re good.”

Ayers pointed to sophomore Kyla Taylor as one of the players the Lady Trojans will have to key on to be successful.

“She’s hard to keep off the boards,” Ayers said. “She can score it and shoot the jumpshot. She’s an athletic kid.”

Ayers added Leslie Powers is another player the Lady Trojans will need to contain.

“We’ve got to be able to play basketball and move the ball, not turn it over,” Ayers said of what the Lady Trojans need to do to be successful tonight. “A lot of it is going to be on the defensive end.

“We’ve worked a lot this week about not getting screened and fighting through stuff.”

The Lady Trojans’ head coach added there is another factor the team needs to be successful.

“We have to have a sense of fight about us,” Ayers said. “We have to have an urgency – of here’s the moment.

“And, when the moment comes, you don’t get a second chance at the moment. We have to be able to seize the moment.”

Ayers added he hopes his team can get the right mindset to seize the opportunity because they might not get another one.

“That’s the biggest thing – whether we’re going to show up with the right mindset,” Ayers said.

Jackson North Side boys at Dyersburg, Saturday, 7 p.m.

The Dyersburg Trojans, who finished the final rankings this past week in the No. 3 spot, will get their Region 7AA journey started in the comfy confines of the Terry Glover Gymnasium on Saturday night when they host the North Side Indians.

“They’re a good bunch,” Dyersburg head coach Blaine Mahaffey said of North Side. “They’re athletic. They have three really good guards that can put the ball on the floor and shoot it.

“And they have a couple bigs that play well inside with one that can step outside and is tough and hard-nosed.”

Mahaffey added his team will have their hands full but can use what they have learned this season to their benefit.

“I think everything you do from your past to right now leads into where you are right now,” Mahaffey said. “We’ve played a good schedule.

“It’s going to be a tough test, obviously, but our guys will be ready to play.”

While there are some trains of thought which would say their loss in the District 13AA title game on Monday night might actually be a good thing for the Trojans – having ended a lengthy winning streak and no longer getting the pressure from that – Dyersburg’s head coach does not feel that way.

“There is no time to lose,” Mahaffey said. “Everybody is in the same boat right now.

“If you won your last one or lost your last one, that’s all irrelevant at this moment.”

Mahaffey added his team will need to have itself ready to play and he feels they will be ready.

Dyer County boys at Bartlett, Saturday, 7 p.m.

For the first time in over a decade, the Choctaws are on the road for the quarterfinals of a region tournament as they make their way down toward Memphis to face the District 13AAA runner-up Panthers.

“They’re loaded,” McCord said. “You’re talking about a school of over 2,500 kids.

“They have a lot of athletes. It’s going to be a difficult game.”

McCord added it will be the best pressure defense his team has seen all season.

“They’ll be one of the most athletic teams we’ve seen all year,” the Choctaw head coach said. “And, they can shoot it well.

“When you look at them 1-12 on their team, they’re all talented.”

McCord points to handling the Panthers press defense as a key to succeeding on Saturday night and advancing to the semifinals.

“We’ve got to handle their pressure defense,” McCord said. “We’ve got to guard them and take care of the basketball – not turn the ball over.”

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