Saints cap off season with 2nd consecutive title
When Coach Russell Marsalis took the St. Andrew's Basketball job he started calling players. One call was to star senior point guard Rashad Bolden of Jackson.
“He said, ‘Coach we are going to get you your first championship,’” Marsalis said. “He was serious and I believed him.”
St. Andrew's went 22-2 this season capping it off with a 59-32 3A championship victory over Booneville on March 6. St. Andrew's has been at the top of 3A basketball for some time. They have won three of the last four state championships in 2018, 2020 and now 2021.
“We got our new coach his first championship,” Bolden said. “It was just a great celebration after the game and felt good to be able to go out like that for my senior year.”
Michael John Davis, a senior point guard and shooting guard for the Saints from Ridgeland, said that he was happy to go out on a high note.
“We won our second one at Ole Miss and that was pretty memorable but it felt good to go out my senior year with one last big game,” Davis said.
On tape, Booneville brought a number of challenges. Marsalis said that they ran several formations, including several they hadn’t seen much of all year, were well-coached and, much like St. Andrew's, on the momentum of a winning streak. He said despite his team’s success they tended to be undersized in direct matchups, meaning he had to assign his players carefully.
The team consensus was that their defensive strategy won them the game. Gluckstadt’s Larry Day, a senior shooting guard, said that their plan really came together as the game progressed.
“It was a tight game at first,” Day said. “In the second quarter, I think we really started playing our roles and pulled away. We never got too comfortable, did what we were supposed to do and played good team basketball.”
Davis said that he goes into every game uneasy.
“I am always nervous before games,” Davis said. “I usually calm down as the game goes on. After the second quarter, I was not worried and knew we were going to win.”
After the last buzzer, the team continued its celebration. In the locker room. Day said that they threw water and glitter all over the place.
Bolden’s season would win him a bid to the State All-Star game this past weekend.
“It was an opportunity to play with some of the best players in Mississippi,” Bolden said. “It was a great experience to be around those guys and compete with them.”
Marsalis has had a 17-year career in coaching including head coach stops at Velma Jackson and Richland. Marsalis had been to the playoffs but this was his first championship. He said taking the helm of a team that had just won a championship was daunting but was a challenge he was ready for.
“It was a sought-after job,” Marsalis said. “There is some relief after this win. I think everybody was gunning for us this year. We took everyone's best shot.”
Looking forward, Marsalis said he has some holes to fill but is excited to see what his team will do.
Juniors Jake Dowdell and Javion Johnson will be returning starters. He also has sophomore Corren Redd returning. Redd started a good bit in the first half of the season when Davis and Day were out for football.
“He played a lot in the first half of the season and was always a spark coming off the bench after we had all of our guys in,” Marsalis said.
Bolden said he is currently looking to play basketball at the next level but is not sure where he is going to school.
Davis is looking to go to Alabama. He said he will focus on academics and look for ways to continue his volunteer work. Davis volunteers at the Mississippi Children’s Museum.
“I really like being around the kids and interacting with them.”
Day is also done with organized basketball for the time being but is looking to attend Xavier in the fall.