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Coahoma County eliminates New Site for fourth time since 2018

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Coahoma County eliminates New Site for fourth time since 2018

By Josh Troy
Clarksdale Advocate

It was business as usual for Coahoma County against New Site. The Red Panthers (26-2, 10-0) opened the playoffs at home Tuesday night with their fourth victory in as many postseason meetings since 2018. No. 1 seed Coahoma County defeated No. 4 New Site 60-34 on Tuesday to advance to the second round of the playoffs. Before Tuesday, the Red Panthers’ most recent win against the Royals came at New Site in the 2021 quarterfinals by a score of 58-52. Coahoma County went on to win the 2021 Class 2A MHSAA basketball state championship for its fourth title in five years.

As the Red Panthers look to get back to the championship, they will host Choctaw County at 6 p.m. Saturday with a trip to the quarterfinals on the line. Coahoma County fell behind 8-3, but finished the first half on a 31-4 run to take a 34-12 halftime lead. Red Panthers coach Derrick Moore called a timeout when his team fell behind in the opening minutes.
“The coaches got on their butts,” he said. “They were too busy being focused on trying to score versus playing defense.”

The Red Panthers connected on four 3-pointers in the first half, with one coming from senior wing Demarjay Rucker, senior shooting guard Camron Bell and two coming from junior point guard Harlem Bell. Moore said after the early struggles, his team played its usual game and got opportunities outside. “We struggled in the beginning because we were trying to play outside versus dumping it in and kicking it out,” he said. “We don’t play that way, and we’re going to go in and then out.”

Harlem Bell said the defense was a key to the victory for Coahoma County. “We stopped the backdoor cuts and the 3-point shooter,” he said. Junior wing Jerasmus Eagins led the Red Panthers with 12 points. He scored 8 of his points during the first half as Coahoma County pulled away. Senior power forward Kesean Maddox scored just 4 points, but he collected 15 rebounds in the win.

The Red Panthers capitalized on their lead by drawing fouls early in the second half. New Site had seven team fouls in the second half with 5:33 remaining in the fourth quarter. That put Coahoma County in a one-and-one situation from the free throw line. “We played defense without fouling,” Moore said. “That’s our thing.” New Site had 10 total fouls in the second half giving Coahoma County a double bonus from the free throw line. Coahoma County finished the second half with eight team fouls.

Moore put his younger athletes on the floor with the game well in hand for the Red Panthers about halfway through the fourth quarter. Freshman wing Kendarious Sims and sophomore point guard Eddrick Turner each scored 2 points during the fourth quarter. Moore said the Red Panthers have a bright future with the underclassmen. “Those younger guys can play,” he said. “You always want to get them in because next year’s coming, and it will be their show next year.”

Harlem Bell and freshman power forward Zechari Smith scored 8 points each, freshman small forward Caleb Hearn followed with 7, Rucker and Camron Bell added 5 apiece, senior small forward Drutavious Magsby contributed 4, and Turner and Sims added 2 each. On Saturday, Moore said he would study film to see what Choctaw County can do. But, for Coahoma County, the focus will remain on defense. “We have to let them guys know we pride ourselves on defense,” Moore said. “I don’t care how much we score; it’s about stopping the other team.” Harlem Bell believes good things are ahead for the Red Panthers. “We’re ready for the next opponent,” he said. “We’re going to state.”

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  • Audrey Henderson

    Now that’s a lot better writing about Everyone that played in the game it takes 5 people to play in a game not just one!!