High School Sports

Whale Branch boys show improvement in win over Ridgeland

Linc Lyles carried a sheet of yellow notebook paper folded several times.

On it, the Whale Branch High School boys basketball coach listed his team's recent games and results. The past five, documented in blue ink: Lost. Lost. Lost. Lost. Lost.

But the list came with caveats. There were Warriors leads late in the fourth quarter, games that showed the potential of the first-year program, without the end result.

The addendum came Friday. Whale Branch ended its losing streak with a 58-46 home victory over Ridgeland, a team that ran past the Warriors earlier in the season.

Work remains to be done, and Whale Branch is still likely on the outside of Region 5-A playoff talk. But the Warriors are taking steps, and Friday was a big one.

The Warriors received a big game from junior Leroy Perry, who scored a game-high 25 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. When the Warriors needed a basket during the second half, Perry delivered.

"We slowed it down and made shots when we needed it," he said.

Ridgeland scored fast and often during the teams' meeting at the beginning of the month. The Warriors held the Jaguars in check Friday with a 3-2 zone and occasional man pressure. The zone helped keep Ridgeland out of the lane, where it had done damage before, and three men up top pressured the wings.

"We knew we had to do better on defense," Perry said. "And we got some stops."

The Jaguars showed their flash at the end of the first half. They scored 10 points in a little more than a minute to end the second quarter, turning a five-point deficit into a five-point lead.

But unlike previous games, the Warriors held in the second half. The Warriors led during the second half in three of their previous five contests before Friday.

"But we're not the same team we were a month ago, three weeks ago," Lyles said. "Confidence is our biggest thing. It's young guys, when they believe in themselves -- you could tell tonight. We did enough to win."

RIDGELAND (11-8, 6-3 Region 5-A) -- Torray Amlett 13, Tevin Stevenson 12, Darren Clark 8, Hamilton Harris 4, Xavier Capers 3, Trevon Patterson 2, Derrick Solomon 2, Medicus Deloach 2, Jeremy Scott 2.

WHALE BRANCH (4-12, 3-7 Region 5-A) -- Leroy Perry 25, Dee Delaney 10, Stedmon James 7, Eric Frazier 4, Charles Jiles 4, Chavonne Simmons 3, Jay Abney 2, Josh Fields 1.

Ridgeland girls 65, Whale Branch 29

Ridgeland's girls basketball players made a point during the summer to assess what they had returning and what they had lost.

The good outweighed the bad. With a deep team, the Jaguars set high expectations for the season.

Solid relationships have helped.

"We all hang out," Jaguars senior Briana Walker said. "All of us have the same classes."

The group continued to fulfill expectations with Friday's victory at Whale Branch. The Jaguars improved to 9-0 in Region 5-A.

The win Friday clinched a sweep of the first-year Warriors, who struggled to solve the Ridgeland pressure.

"We're not as bad as we looked at times," said Whale Branch coach Wilbert Bryant. "Ridgeland has the ability to make you look silly, the way they play."

Bryant said he tried to encourage his team to play hard consistently, rather than for stretches. The Warriors cut the Jaguars' lead to 11-6 early, but Ridgeland scored the next 17 points to blow open the game.

RIDGELAND (14-4, 9-0 Region 5-A) -- Briana Walker 22, April Jenkins 18, Brittany Richardson 9, Brittany Ford 4, Matesha Stevenson 2, Tonisha Roberts 2, Teletha Dopson 2, Monica Scott 2.

WHALE BRANCH (4-11, 3-6 Region 5-A) -- S'Nitra Mack 14, Brittney Pryor 7, Cynthia Rivers 4, Kenyada Moultrie 4.