It was do or die for eight competing teams Saturday at Bethel University during the opening elimination round of the District 11A High School Basketball Tournament.
Advancing to the district semifinals and earning a spot in the upcoming regional tournament were the McKenzie Rebels, the West Carroll War Eagles, the Clarksburg Rockets, and the Lady War Eagles.
The Rebels dominated the Natchez Trace Youth Academy Blazers 60-29 in the first game, after which the War Eagles topped the Big Sandy Red Devils 69-37 and the Rockets bumped the Hollow Rock-Bruceton Tigers 62-39.
The most hotly contested game Saturday was the lone girls match-up as the Lady War Eagles defeated the Lady Tigers 52-38.
The Lady War Eagles advanced to confront the top seeded Huntingdon Fillies in the first semifinals game Monday night, while the Lady Rebels and Lady Rockets fought it out in the second game.
Boys’ semifinals matches on Tuesday featured the top seeded Huntingdon Mustangs versus the Rockets, followed by the Rebels versus the War Eagles.
Results from Monday and Tuesday night’s games were not available as of press time Monday afternoon.
The girls district tournament concludes Friday night with the consolation game at 6 p.m. and the championship at 7:30 p.m.
Boys’ action finishes on Saturday with consolation and championship games at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively.
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Rebels 60, Blazers 29
Whitsell lead MHS past Natchez Trace in the District 11A quarterfinals
McKenzie sprinted to a big first-half lead and was never threatened in its 60-29 victory over Natchez Trace.
How thorough was the victory? The Rebels took a 31-7 lead with 3:49 to play in the first half. Had they not scored again, they still would have won the game. The Rebels missed its first four shots and sputtered a bit early, then they warmed up to take a 16-5 lead in the first quarter.
The Rebels rolled to a 43-point lead after Evan Jarrett’s two free throws with 3:26 to play in the third. The Trailblazers cut the lead to 30 but got no closer.
Nate Whitsell led a balanced McKenzie attack with 13 points. Ben Austin scored 11, and Lucas King added 12.
Lorenzo White led Natchez Trace with eight. Jumaine Johnson and Jermaine Jackson each had six. The loss ended the Trailblazers’ season.
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War Eagles 69, Red Devils 37
The Red Devils jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, but the War Eagles stepped it up and passed Big Sandy at around the three-minute mark on a basket by Jeremiah Bryant. After that, West Carroll put up 13 unanswered points to hold the scoreboard 23-9 at the end of the first period.
The pace of the game slowed somewhat in the second quarter as the War Eagles outscored Big Sandy 11-8 to claim a 34-17 halftime advantage.
The War Eagles delivered a big 26-point flurry in the third quarter with five baskets from Zach Heckert and three threes from Carson Lee Robinson while holding Big Sandy to 10.
The Red Devils topped West Carroll by one point 10-9 in the fourth period, but it wasn’t enough to make a difference.
Robinson spearheaded West Carroll’s offensive effort with 21 points, while Heckert and Tyson Keymon also broke double digits with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
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Rockets 62, Tigers 39
The Rockets and Tigers traded points evenly for the first four minutes of the game, but Clarksburg raced ahead in the second half of the first quarter, and a last-second three-pointer by Myles Rogers had the Rockets up 23-11 at the end of the first.
Clarksburg maintained the lead through the second quarter, though the Tigers did gain a little ground to trail 36-28 at the half.
The Rockets clinched the win in the second half, outscoring Central 15-8 in the third quarter and 11-3 in the fourth.
Devin Wildridge was way out front for the Rockets with 23 points. Bailee Webb contributed 11.
Gage Lowry was Central’s top scorer with 17 points, while Brayden Frye added 10.
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Lady War Eagles 52, Lady Tigers 38
The Lady War Eagles and Lady Tigers ran neck-and-neck through the first quarter, though West Carroll jumped ahead late in the period to hold the scoreboard 11-8.
The Lady War Eagles continued to widen their lead in the second quarter, boosted by 12 points from Macey Cunningham, to claim a 34-21 advantage at the half.
The Lady Tigers rallied in the third quarter, outscoring West Carroll 11-4, including back-to-back threes by Faith McWilliams. West Carroll was only leading by four (38-34) going into the final period.
But the Lady War Eagles delivered in the final stretch, while the Lady Tigers suffered the loss of offensive leader Olivia Lowry, who fouled out early in the quarter. West Carroll wrapped it up with another 14 points, and the Lady Tigers only managed four, all of which were made at the foul line by Brylee Williams.
Macey Cunningham was out front for West Carroll with 22 points. Aubry Jones put up 13.
Williams was Central’s top scorer with 12 points.