Coahoma County boys, girls win district championships
Coahoma County High School’s boys and girls basketball teams both won their district tournaments in the same season for the first time since 2019-20. The Red Panthers (25-2, 10-0) came in as the top seed and took the Region 3-2A tournament with a 59-37 victory against O’Bannon on Thursday and a 58-51 win against North Side on Friday. The Lady Red Panthers (16-12, 7-3) came into the tournament as third seed, but won the championship with a 31-28 win against No. 2 North Side on Thursday and a 49-28 victory against No. 1 Riverside on Friday.
All Region 3-2A District Tournament games were played at Riverside High School. When the boys and girls won the district tournament three years ago, the Red Panthers earned their third of four Class 2A Mississippi High School Activities Association championships in five years. The Lady Red Panthers were the state runner-ups in 2020.
Coahoma County coach Derrick Moore was happy after the boys and girls clinched the district tournament on Friday. “It’s fulfilling, to be honest with you,” he said. “The girl’s goal was to win the district. Literally, it was our goal, before and during the season, to win that district. The boys, we’ve been leaving that district on the table. We’ve been leaving the district on the table and then losing in the district championship. It felt very fulfilling for both teams.”
Zechari Smith led the Red Panthers with 10 points against O’Bannon, Demarjay Rucker followed with 9, Jerasmus Eagins added 8, Caleb Hearn scored 7, and Kesean Maddox 6 points contributed 6. Camron Bell and Eagins scored 16 points apiece against North Side, while Rucker added 6 points and 5 steals. The Red Panthers led 29-14 at halftime against the Gators on Friday, but they missed 17 free throws and went well below 50% from the line. That allowed North Side to narrow Coahoma County’s lead in the second half.
“I can tell you we went from a 21-point lead to they knocked it down to 4 points because we couldn’t make free throws,” said Moore, adding his team would be working on free throws during practice. The boys lost their first two games of the season, but have won 25 consecutive since and had a first-round bye in the Region 3-2A District Tournament.
“The first couple games, people don’t know, we didn’t have our guys,” Moore said. “We were still playing football. Once we got all our football players back, we’ve been where we’re supposed to be.”Moore said the Red Panthers undefeated with a full lineup.
The Red Panthers lost in the 2022 District Tournament championship. That caused them to go on the road in the second round of the playoffs and lose to eventual state champion Pine Grove. “We’ve got pictures in the locker room of the kid from Pine Grove staring us down,” said Moore, adding winning this year’s district tournament was very important.
Armoni Redmon scored 12 points in the Lady Red Panthers win against North Side, Martia Crawford followed with 6, and Tataria Myles added 5. Crawford put together a double-double with 18 points and 18 rebounds against Riverside, Zanedria Martin also had a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds, while Myles finished with 10 points and 2 blocks.
The girls opened the district tournament with a 29-6 win against Leflore County on Tuesday in a game Moore referred to as “sloppy,” but he was much more pleased with their performance Thursday and Friday. “We made more shots,” Moore said. “We literally made more shots. We caught the ball. We laid the ball up. We didn’t turn the ball over as much, and we actually forced more turnovers.” The Lady Red Panthers jumped out to a 14-2 lead at the end of the first quarter against Riverside. Moore said the quick start was a key to the victory.
“It was imperative that we came out firing on all cylinders,” he said. “We have a tendency, if we start slow, it gets in our head, and we don’t play well the remainder of the game.”
The Lady Red Panthers started off the current season with a 2-8 record, but Moore said turnaround came from “confidence, playing smart on defense, and just being able to make timely buckets.” Redmon, Martin, and Calvayuna Johnson are the only three seniors on the Lady Red Panthers.
With a young team, Moore said there could be a bright future. “The key is, are they going to take this, build on it and work over the summer?” Moore said. “That’s been the thing, getting them in over the summer. The guys will come in and work over the summer, but the girls, don’t feel like they have to come in and work during the summer. That’s been the battle for our team.”
The Lady Red Panthers open the playoffs hosting Walnut High School at 6 p.m. Monday, while the Red Panthers host New Site at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Both opponents are unfamiliar with Coahoma County. “As I tell girls and boys, it’s not about what the other team has, it’s about what you bring to the table,” Moore said. “You come out and be true to what you do, we’re going to be good.”