Flashes fizzle after fast start, fall to Copiah Academy

Published 9:33 am Friday, January 19, 2024

St. Aloysius took off like a missile, then fizzled out like a cheap bottle rocket.

The Flashes raced out to a 13-point lead with a dominant first quarter Thursday against Copiah Academy, then were outscored by 25 over the next two. The final result was a disappointing 66-50 loss in the key MAIS District 4-5A boys’ basketball game.

“We’re still trying to learn how to win. When you get punched in the mouth like that, and go from up 10 or 12 to down 10, you’ve got to respond. We didn’t do it quick enough,” St. Al coach Walter Hallberg said. “We played better the fourth quarter. I think we played them about even the fourth quarter. We just got punched in the mouth coming out the third quarter and didn’t respond until it was too late.”

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St. Al (11-9, 1-2 District 4-5A) could not have had a better start. It scored the first eight points of the game and led 15-2 at the end of the first quarter. Korey Sims, who finished with a double-double with 14 points, 13 rebounds and four steals, scored eight points in the period.

In the second quarter, however, Copiah Academy got rolling and never really stopped. Jamarius Grayer scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the quarter, and the Colonels used a 13-2 run to pull to within 17-15 with 4 1/2 minutes left.

St. Al still carried a 26-22 lead into halftime, but it only lasted a few more minutes. Jay Bradley scored on a putback to tie it at 31 with five minutes to go in the third quarter and Grayer hit a floater in the lane 30 seconds later to give Copiah its first lead of the game. It never trailed again.

Copiah outscored St. Al 27-10 in the third quarter, and 47-22 over the middle two periods, to roar back from its bad start.

“They switched to that 1-2-2 and we didn’t adjust well for about four minutes in the third quarter. They scored more points in the third quarter than they scored in the first half. Then they started leaking (Grayer) out and we never got anybody back,” Hallberg said. “They found something to do against us and capitalized on it. We never really figured it out until it was too late.”

Copiah’s defense was a major factor in its comeback. It forced St. Al into 21 turnovers, most of them steals along the perimeter. St. Al also shot 38.6 percent (17-for-44) from the field. It grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, but Copiah got enough to generate a lot of fast-break opportunities going the other way.

“I’m not disappointed in their effort. They played hard from start to finish,” Hallberg said. “We just hit a stretch right there where we couldn’t score and they capitalized. They scored and we didn’t a bunch of trips in a row. Once we got down it took us too long to respond.”

In addition to Sims’ double-double, Carson Gleese led St. Al with 16 points and Anthony McCloud had 10 points and five rebounds. Carson Henderson added six points.

Bradley scored 12 points for Copiah and Trey Wood had eight.

While Hallberg was not disappointed in the Flashes’ effort, he was with the result. They’ve blown leads in both of their district losses and fallen behind in the District 4-5A playoff race. Four of the league’s five teams qualify for the Class 5A South State tournament, and there is no district tournament that would allow a team to play its way in.

“That’s two. We played ACCS right before Christmas break and we were winning for three quarters and seven minutes and 55 seconds and lost at the end,” Hallberg said. “And to have a big lead like that in this game, and get knocked down and not get back up in time, was very disappointing.”

Copiah Academy 58, St. Aloysius 19
Charley Grace Davis scored 19 points in the first quarter as Copiah Academy jumped out to a 17-point lead and never looked back in its girls’ basketball victory over St. Aloysius on Thursday.

Davis finished with 27 points and Mattie Cline scored 10 for Copiah. The Colonels led 23-6 at the end of the first quarter and pulled away in the second half. They held St. Al scoreless in the third quarter.

Maddy McSherry led St. Al with 10 points and Mallory Hobson scored four.

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.

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