Flashes rally past defending state champs in opener

Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 8, 2018

In the closing seconds of the first half Tuesday, Trinye Brown threw an alley-oop pass to his brother Alvin for a highlight-reel quality layup. As they headed into the locker room, the St. Aloysius Flashes hoped it was the spark they needed to invigorate a sluggish offense.

And it was. It was just a very, very slow burn.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The Flashes continued to struggle for another quarter before finally getting going. They wiped out a 10-point deficit in a six-minute span and went on to beat defending MAIS Class AAAA Division II champion Copiah Academy 51-46 in their boys’ basketball season opener.

St. Al outscored Copiah 23-10 in the fourth quarter, after trailing by eight points entering the period.

“They were a lot bigger than we were. They were the defending state champions in AAAA. And I think my kids played their butts off,” St. Al coach Eddie Pickle said. “It took us a while to get started, but we had a little spurt at the end of the first half, the alley-oop and a defensive stop. The kids came in the locker room and they were pumped. I figured our offense would kick in eventually. It really didn’t, but our defense stepped up.”

Alvin Brown led St. Al with 22 points, with half of those coming in the fourth quarter. Phillip Upshaw scored 12, and Braxton Chewning chipped in eight.

Dewey Shannon led Copiah with 18 points and Eli Hamlin scored 12.

St. Al has never been a basketball power, but with every starter coming back and a few key additions like the Brown brothers there are hopes of being a contender in Class AAA this season. Beating a defending state champion on opening night was a statement that those hopes could quickly become expectations.

“This is a very good start. They won AAAA last year and we put them away this year. They’re a very good team,” Alvin Brown said. “We put our statement out there already. We’re trying to make a good first impression and put our stamp out there and show everybody what we’re about.”

After an even first quarter, St. Al’s shooting went cold in the second and Copiah started to pull away. The Brown brothers’ alley-oop cut it to 23-14 at halftime, but Copiah still led by 10 with 3 ½ minutes left in the third quarter and by eight heading into the fourth.

That deficit was wiped out in a hurry, though. The Flashes turned a couple of steals into quick transition baskets to spark a 12-3 run. A basket by Upshaw with 5:30 remaining gave them their first lead since late in the first quarter.

The score went back-and-forth for a few minutes, until another basket by Upshaw with 1:21 to play gave St. Al the lead for good at 48-46.

“Once it got rolling, we were in the mood. Everybody was scoring baskets, passing the ball and being unselfish,” Alvin Brown said.

Pickle said the key to the comeback was defense.

“Our goal is to hold everybody we play to 45 (points). If we do that, eventually we’ll hit our 65. I’m so proud of our defense tonight. They did exactly what we’ve been working on. Every one of them did well. Even the kids on the bench, they bust their butt in practice and push the other ones. It’s a total team win,” Pickle said.

(G) Copiah Academy 53, St. Al 18

McKinna Smith scored 15 of her 19 points in the first half and Copiah Academy’s girls’ team rolled past St. Aloysius in the season opener for both squads.

Smith hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first half as Copiah built a 24-point lead at the break. Kylie Page finished with 10 points for the Lady Colonels and Eliza Brunt added nine.

Elizabeth Theriot and Taylor Chewning led St. Al with six points apiece. Pickle said he was proud of his team’s effort. The Lady Flashes only have 10 players on the roster, and several have missed extended practice time in the preseason because of illness.

“We’ve only had 10 players in practice twice in two weeks,” Pickle said. “The first seven or eight minutes of that ballgame, we looked like a basketball team. They know what to do. They’re coachable. They love the game, and they’re going to surprise some people. I’m as proud of them as I am the guys.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

email author More by Ernest