Natchez varsity boys cruise to victory over Ferriday
By BILL BARKSDALE
FERRIDAY — Natchez High School’s varsity boys’ basketball team focused on fundamentals, maintained a disciplined game pace, and came away with a solid victory Friday night as the Bulldogs defeated the rival Ferriday High School Trojans 60-46 at the Ferriday Junior High School Gym.
“We put a lot of time in the offseason working on skill development and right now we are reaping the benefits of that focus,” Natchez High head coach David Haywood said.
The first quarter ended with the Bulldogs and the Trojans knotted up at 12 apiece. But in the second quarter, Haywood sent his defense out in a three-quarter court press and that changed the course of the game.
“We forced a couple of turnovers which led to some easy baskets. That gave us confidence,” Haywood said.
Ferriday head coach George Barnes noted that when Natchez High shifted its defense, “it threw us out of rhythm and we spent too much time standing. When we moved the ball down the court, we made good shots.”
Regular substitutions helped the Bulldogs stay fresh throughout the game.
“As soon as I noticed a few mental mistakes, I could give those players a rest. We had outstanding playing from the bench, especially from Travis Berry,” Haywood said. Berry scored six points in the second quarter that gave Natchez High a lead they would not give up
Natchez High had four players score in double digits. James Singleton was the Bulldogs’ leading scorer with 19 points. KeDarius Stampley and Jakel Barnes followed with 11 points each and CamRon Bailey scored 10. Neither team committed more than seven fouls per half, which limited free-throw attempts. Natchez shot 64% from the free-throw line.
Ferriday’s Derrick Johnson dominated the night with 21 points, but it would not be enough to overcome a steady nine-point Bulldogs lead throughout the last three quarters.
Barnes was pleased with the energy of his team, saying, “They hustled tonight and gave it their all. I was pleased with our defense for the most part. We just have to learn that in a zone defense when your opponent spreads you out, one guy still has to protect the middle against the drive.”
Ferriday made seven of 17 free throws, which disappointed Barnes. He noted, “We have to improve our free throws to at least 80% and hold down the turnovers.”
Ferriday enters LHSAA District 2-2A play on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at General Trass High School in Lake Providence, La., which Natchez High is off until Friday when it travels to Jackson to take on Wingfield High School at 7:30 p.m. in its MHSAA Region 6-5A opener.
Barnes remarked, “Tonight was a great test for our young team, playing only one senior. As we approach district play, I would rather be tested than win by a blowout margin, so we can avoid a false sense of security. Come Tuesday, we’ll be ready.”