With the season nearing its half-way point the two clearly best teams in the state have been the Panthers of Amanda Elzy, ranked no. 1 in our Magnoliapreps.com rankings, and the Rams of Jackson Provine, ranked no. 2. On Friday night they met up in the Joe Horne Columbus Christmas Invitational with the Rams taking a convincing 73-57 win, and stating their case that they are the best team in Mississippi.
The first quarter was a sloppy affair with both teams coming out looking tight. Halfway thru the quarter the score was only 6-2 in favor of Elzy when Provine started to right the ship. The Rams finished the quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 12-8 lead into the second quarter.
Elzy came out strong to start the second quarter fighting back to take a 14-13 lead two and a half minutes into the quarter, but the Rams immediately answered with three straight three-pointers from sophomore forward Jarekus Davis to open the lead back up to seven at 21-14. The Panthers answered the strong punch from the Rams with a 6-0 run of their own, aided by a mysterious point that appeared out of nowhere, to get back to within one at 21-20. The Rams ended the quarter with a basket and two free throws sandwiched around an Elzy free throw to take a 25-21 lead into the dressing room at half. Elzy's second quarter resurgence was forged behind the play of senior post Jamarious Middleton, who, after not scoring in the first, scored 9, it seems he was given credit for the mystery point, of Elzy's 13 points in the quarter.
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The third quarter opened with four quick points by Elzy to tie the score at 25 but from that point it was all Provine as the Rams, keyed by nine points from Davis, went on a 15-6 run to open up a 40-31 lead with three minutes left in the quarter. The Panthers sandwiched a couple of baskets around one from Provine to stop the bleeding but the Rams responded with another 10-3 run to close out the quarter to take a 52-38 lead into the fourth.
Provine opened the fourth quarter with two quick buckets to open an 18 point lead at 56-38. That would be the Rams biggest lead of the night as it seemed that they decided to slow the pace and run some clock which allowed Elzy to catch their breath and hit a 9-0 run of their own, again with the aid of a mysterious point that suddenly appeared, to get the lead down to nine at 56-47 halfway thru the quarter. But that was as close as the Panthers would come as the Rams regained their aggressiveness and pulled away to win by a final score of 73-57.
The Rams had three players in double figures led by Davis' 18 points, while the Provine backcourt duo of DeAngelo West and Javeres Brent tallied 13 and 12 respectively. For Amanda Elzy Middleton finished with 25 while Dandy Dozen guard and Mississippi State Commit Maurice Dunlap tallied 12.