Now it gets serious.
The boys and girls brackets of the Division 4-4A Tournament at West Lauderdale are each down to four teams going into Thursday night's semifinals.
While all eight teams remaining will be taking part in the North State play-in games on Monday and Tuesday, only four of them will be at home.
That's what's at stake when semifinal action tips off at 4 p.m. Thursday with the Neshoba Central girls facing New Hope.
The West Lauderdale girls, Kosciusko boys and Noxubee County boys all took wins on Tuesday night to reach the semifinal round.
Noxubee County opened the night with a come-from-behind 56-41 win over Neshoba Central in boys action, followed by a 48-40 win for the West Lauderdale girls over Louisville.
In the nightcap, Kosciusko held off a furious rally by the WL boys to take a 55-51 win over the Knights.
Other Thursday games have the New Hope and Kosciusko boys meeting at 5:30 p.m., the top-seeded Noxubee County girls and West Lauderdale playing at 7
p.m. and the Northeast Lauderdale and Noxubee County boys meeting at 8:30 p.m.
"These will be big games for everybody," said Northeast Lauderdale head boys coach Lewis Lightsey, who was watching Tuesday night's action. "Everybody wants that home game."
West girls 48
The Lady Knights used strong outside shooting from Jerrica Sims to take the eight-point win. Sims knocked down five three-pointers to lead West Lauderdale with 15 points.
"We did okay offensively," WL head girls coach Jody Hurst said. "You don't want to have to depend on three-pointers like that, but Jerrica made some big ones for us to help us keep the lead."
But there were other parts of his team's game that bothered Hurst.
"We just didn't play defense well at all," Hurst said. "We weren't moving our feet, we weren't getting in position, we weren't blocking out and we didn't rebound well. If we don't do a better job than that on Thursday night, Noxubee will kill us on the boards."
West Lauderdale led 23-14 at the half and was up 31-23 after three quarters of play. Sims nailed three of her three-pointers in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter to help push the Lady Knights out to a 41-29 lead.
Louisville, now 8-15 on the season, worked itself back into the game, cutting the WL lead to 44-38 on a pair of free throws by Delisa Coleman with 1:28 left in the game. Whitney Gale and Josie Matthews hit a pair of free throws each down the stretch to ice the win for the Lady Knights.
Sommer Jones had seven points and seven rebounds for West Lauderdale, while Matthews had seven points and six boards.
Korsche Glenn led Louisville with nine points, while Tanesha Holmes had seven points and eight rebounds.
West boys 51
The homestanding Knights tried to ride the long bombs in a furious comeback attempt against the Whippets of Kosciusko.
Kosciusko led 33-20 at the half, but Ricky Gardner caught fire in the third quarter, nailing four consecutive three-pointers to cut the KHS lead to 35-32 with 5:14 left in the third quarter.
After Kosciusko hit a driving jumper in the lane to make it 37-32, J. Stoddard nailed a three-pointer, then Gardner was credited for a basket when Kosciusko swatted away his attempt at a driving layup, tying the game at 37-37 with 2:10 to play in the quarter.
KHS responded by scoring a pair of baskets in the last minute of the quarter to go up 41-37 with just eight minutes to play. The Whippets stayed on that run to open the fourth quarter, taking a 46-37 lead with just over six minutes to play. But, WL responded to cut it to 48-45 on a pair of free throws by Ryan Hill with 4:10 to go in the game.
After falling back behind by five points, WL whittled it to two at 51-49 on free throws by Paul Clayton with 1:13 to play. But the Knights could get no closer.
Jamal Wilder led Kosciusko with 14 points, while Gardner used seven three-pointers to score 26 for West Lauderdale.
Noxubee boys 56
Neshoba Central 41
The Tigers of Noxubee County High School outscored Neshoba Central 37-15 in the second half to overcome a 26-19 halftime deficit and take the 14-point victory.
Noxubee County scored 15 of the first 17 points of the second half to take a 34-28 lead and never trailed in the game again.
Brian Joiner hit on eight-of-11 free throws to lead Noxubee County with 15 points, while James Patterson had 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Tigers.
Ken Robinson led Neshoba Central with 11 points, nine rebounds, four steals and four assists.
Now it gets serious.
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This Week's Circulars
Arrangements are currently incomplete at Berry & Gardner Funeral Home for Mr. James Culpepper Sr., 96, of Meridian, who passed away on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021 at Poplar Springs Nursing Center, Meridian.
Graveside services for Mr. Kodi Davidson Jr. will be Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, at 11 a.m. at Meridian Memorial Park Cemetery, Meridian. Viewing: Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021 from 5-6 p.m. at Berry & Gardner OP Chapel, Meridian.
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