By Rocky Higginbotham
Winston County Journal
Winston Academy’s basketball teams saw their 2016-17 seasons come to a close last week, both with respectable showings in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools’ Class AAA North State Tournament.
The Patriots fought tooth-and-nail with Bayou Academy before dropping a 62-49 decision last Tuesday night in the tournament at Leake Academy in Madden. The Lady Patriots, meanwhile, opened tourney action with a 45-34 win over Park Place Christian last Monday before losing 47-32 to North Delta School in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Winston’s girls finished this season with a 27-8 record.
No additional details were available on the girls’ contests. North Delta fell 41-40 to Manchester Academy in the semifinals before finishing fourth in the tourney. Kirk Academy’s girls won the event, which sent the top four finishers to this week’s Class AAA State Tournament at Kirk in Grenada.
Winston’s boys, meanwhile, lost to a Bayou team which was eliminated in the quarterfinals by eventual North State champion Hartfield Academy. The Patriots, who were above the .500 mark during the holidays, wound up 13-21 after going through a brutal district schedule in January and February.
Starkville Academy, Heritage Academy and Leake Academy — who finished second, third and fourth in the North State and all advanced to this week’s state tourney — were district opponents for Winston.
The Patriots stayed with Bayou in the first half, trailing by six points after one quarter and just 33-28 at halftime.
“We only managed five points in the third quarter and couldn’t dig out of that hole,” Winston coach Justin Childs said. “We cut it to eight at one point in the fourth quarter but just couldn’t get closer.”
The Patriots were without starting post player ollin Willis, who was out with the flu. Winston got 11 points from Nash Vanlandingham and nine points apiece from Nick Hogue and Collin Mills.
Stanley Buford pumped in a game-high 21 points to lead Bayou Academy in the contest, which saw 51 total fouls called.
The Patriots were just 13-of-29 from the free-throw line in the foul-plagued contest. “That really hurt us,” Childs said.
Winston also said goodbye to a trio of seniors.
“Fields Major, Nick Hogue and Austin Blaine played their final game as a WA Patriot,” Childs said. “They helped lay down the foundation for the future ahead.”