Shooting For Another Title
Velma Jackson set to repeat as champs
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 1:00 PM
Quin Weatherspoon and Kendarius Smith combined to score 55 points, and Velma Jackson continued its march towards a repeat as 3A champions with a 66-36 route of Kemper County in the semifinal round of the MHSAA playoffs Saturday at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Velma’s Kendarius Smith glides in for an uncontested layup.
The Falcons pulled ahead early and never looked back to improve to 33-2, with its only losses all year coming at the hands of a 6A opponent Madison Central and a 5A foe, Pearl.
"I told them prior to the game starting that we're not here to defend that title," Velma Jackson coach Anthony Carlyle said. "I told them that this team hasn't won anything. In our eyes, we're looking for our first championship for this team."
Apparently, these Falcons were listening to their coach.
After cruising to an early 15-9 lead, Velma Jackson turned on the jets went on a 14-5 run in the second quarter to take a 29-14 lead into the half. They poured it on in the second half, scoring 21 points in the third quarter and out-scoring Kemper County 16-7 in the fourth.
Smith finished with 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting, and Weatherspoon made three of his six attempts from beyond the 3-point arc and finished by shooting 9-of-16 from the floor for a game-high 23 points. Six-foot-five forward Moses Greenwood had just six points, but grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked six shots.
Daetrell Bell scored 15 for the Wildcats, and Otis Cross added 13, but Kemper County (16-20) didn't have a prayer.
Most of their opponents don't. In seven playoff games, the closest a team has come to beating them is 13 points - in a 31-18 win over Southeast Lauderdale. Nobody else has come within 17 points. The combined score from seven playoff games? Velma Jackson 421, all other comers 246.
"We've worked really hard every day since our first practice," Weatherspoon said. "(Carlyle) pushes us hard, day after day, practice after practice, and you can see that in the way we play."
What's almost scary about this Falcon team is this: a quick glance at the roster shows just one senior - guard/forward Justin Washington. Weatherspoon, Smith and Greenwood are all juniors, and they are the driving force behind what could quickly become a dynasty.
Only two teams in recent history - Lanier (2005-2007) and Durant (1993-1995) - have successfully three-peated as state champions.
Velma Jackson will be a heavy favorite in its bid to get title number two under its belt when the Falcons take on East Side High School at 2:30 p.m. Friday afternoon.
"We just have to focus and keep doing the things we've had to do to be successful to this point," Weatherspoon said. "We need to refocus and do what we've been doing, because that's what got us here."