ACCS sweeps Cathedral in prep basketball games
By BILL BARKSDALE
Special to The Democrat
NATCHEZ — In a Natchez cross-town rivalry, varsity girls’ and boys’ basketball teams competed in an intense atmosphere last Friday night at Cathedral. Adams County Christian School won both MAIS District 4-4A match-ups, claiming bragging rights until they meet again.
ACCS 48, Cathedral 40
In the varsity girls’ game, both sides aggressively attacked the ball and racked up personal fouls. The bonus threshold arrived quickly in each half, with ACCS committing 16 fouls and Cathedral 21 total fouls. Cathedral was 62% from the free-throw line, while ACCS was 46%.
“Some of our fouls came from too much standing and then realizing a need to jump quickly back to protect the basket,” Lady Green Wave head coach Bernita Dunbar said. “That would result in a foul because we were out of rhythm.”
In a game with frequent jump balls and battles, Dunbar said Cathedral’s physicality improved in the game.
“We are getting there, working on that every day at practice,” Dunbar said. “We are always reminding the girls that when they face a physical team, they must match the effort.”
Winning head coach Melanie Hall commented that, “First and foremost, win or lose, to God be the glory. We try to instill that perspective in every one of our players. I am so proud of the girls tonight, including those on the bench supporting their teammates. As always, it took every one of us to get the W.”
ACCS kept the ball moving around the perimeter with textbook passing technique until Cathedral (9-12, 0-2) allowed an opportunity for a drive or jump shot. Coach Hall said, “That was a big part of the win tonight, our solid execution.”
Dunbar is coping with a roster containing several injured players. “We are finding out how to play without some of our teammates,” Dunbar said. “We need to look more inward, passing the ball to our taller girls to make a basket in the paint, rather than from the outside.”
ACCS ran a ‘helping man’ defense in which the defender closest to the ball stays immediately in front of their assignment, but shifts to the center as needed to protect the lane.
Cate Drane had 19 points for Cathedral on the night, including four three-pointers.
“We had to stay close on Cate Drane,” Hall said. “The times when we were a second late or left her open, Drane would sink a basket.”
Though the point spread at the end of each quarter was small, ACCS (2-10, 1-1) pulled away in the third quarter and never looked back. Coach Dunbar noted, “Offensively, we stand too much instead of moving around the lane. That causes us to miss rebounds and give up a second opportunity for the goal.”
ACCS 59, Cathedral 39
When the boys took the court, the Adams County Christian School Rebels quickly took a double-digit lead, a gap the Green Wave would not be able to close through four quarters of play. ACCS defeated Cathedral, 59-39.
“We expected a big atmosphere and we were not disappointed. The crowd motivated our team to play well,” said Rebels head coach Matthew Freeman.
Cathedral could not sustain any offensive momentum, though there was improvement in defensive transition as compared to last Tuesday.
“Cathedral put a lot of pressure on us and kept us from driving to the basket. We probably missed 15 layups,” Freeman said. “which is not normal for us.”
First-year Cathedral varsity coach Taylor Strahan noted, “Tonight was hard because we felt like we couldn’t get a break to fall our way. But credit goes to Coach Freeman and his players because they stepped up in a big game.”
Strahan has had a different starting line-up over the past few weeks, trying to find the right combination of talent. “We started Clayton (Devening) tonight because he always brings energy to the team and attacks rebounds. But in the end, we couldn’t get enough 3-point shots to drop in order to overcome a 13-point first quarter deficit,” Strahan said.
Cathedral played a clean game throughout the night with only 11 total fouls. But Strahan observed, “We are letting easy baskets go by without making a play for the ball. We aren’t being aggressive enough which is something we have got to fix. Sometimes you can live with a foul rather than an easy basket.
“Honestly, the guys followed our game plan by forcing ACCS to mostly shoot from the outside. But (Wes) Stockstill wrecked that plan with his tremendous play and 3-point outside shooting,” Strahan said.
Rebels senior Stockstill dominated the court and was the leading scorer with 20 points. “Our practices these past few weeks have been more intense, and that has helped mold the team together,” Stockstill said. “Our preparation really showed tonight, which boosted my confidence and leadership on the court.”
Cathedral senior point guard Chase Kaiser reflected on the Green Wave loss with disappointment, saying, “It’s always tough to lose to ACCS, especially on our home court.”
Yet Kaiser was thrilled with the energy from the crowd at both varsity games, where students and fans packed the stands and kept the noise level soaring. “And that made for two riveting games, although the scoreboard did not reflect it. I know I missed a few baskets because my adrenaline was so high,” reflected Kaiser.
“We’ve also had some struggles communicating with one another, and playing as a cohesive team,” Kaiser said.
While many seniors miss the playing time they had in previous years, Kaiser sees the bigger picture and is very happy to have freshmen such as Kaden Batiests (16 points) and Jordan Henry (five points) step up and play so well. “When Kaden and Jordan are seniors, they will be a force to be reckoned with,” Kaiser said.
Coach Freeman remarked, “We are proud of all our guys who give each shot their maximum effort. Sometimes the shots fall in, sometimes they don’t but it doesn’t deter them. Our defense did a good job at trapping the ball with two men. Trapping can risk a 3 point shot from the outside, but it paid off tonight as (Cathedral’s) 3 point shooters struggled.”
Adams County Christian (7-5) is now 2-0 in district play and will take on Brookhaven Academy tonight in Brookhaven. Asked about the next phase for the Rebels, Stockstill said, “Going forward, we will be fine tuning and correcting mistakes. Our primary goal is to make it to the state championship game.”
Cathedral (10-10) dropped to 0-2 in district play and will battle with Silliman Institute tonight in Clinton, La.