Friday night, McKenzie High School basketball accomplished something that may never have happened before in its history.
The Lady Rebels and Rebels claimed the District 11A championships over Houston County at McEwen. The Lady Rebels defeated Houston County 66-46 for the girls’ title, while the Rebels took down the fighting Irish in a low-scoring affair, 46-37.
McKenzie coach John Wilkins guided both teams to the championships.
In the boys’ game, neither team seemed to find consistency on offense, but McKenzie’s defense did the job, which was, essentially, the difference. The Rebels broke to a 13-6 lead in the first, but the Irish cut the lead to three, 13-10.
As the second quarter unfolded, Zayden McCaslin’s triple lifted McKenzie to a six-point advantage. The Irish responded with a 5-0 surge, ending with a bucket from Houston County’s Clayton Mitchell. The Irish led for the first time, 18-16. The Rebels responded with seven unanswered points to lead 23-18. Bryson Steele, who led the Rebs with 16, scored as time wound down for the lead.
Jerison Hankins’ triple tied the game at 23, but the Rebels kept the Irish at arm’s length, thanks to buckets from Tate Surber and Zay Webber. McKenzie led after three, 32-27. In the final frame, Houston County got as close as six, but the Rebels scored the last six points in the game to close out and collected the top trophy.
Mitchell led the Irish with 11, Logan Medders scored nine.
Following Steele, Marquez Taylor added nine and McCaslin scored seven. The Rebels improve to 17-8 and will host Frank Hughes 7 p.m. Saturday in the first round of the Region 6A tournament.
In the girls’ championship, McKenzie opened hot with four triples and took a 20-7 lead. The Houston County girls rallied to close to within eight, 22-14. Briley Auvenshine, Savannah Davis, Katie Chesser and Mikaela Reynolds each rang the bell from the perimeter.
The Lady Rebels hit nine threes on the night. Houston County only two, which was in stark contract from the last time these two teams met.
McKenzie raced to a 28-16 lead to start the second, but the Lady Irish, led by a personal 6-0 run from Josey Gant, cut the lead to six, 28-22. A triple from Mikaela Davis and a shot at the buzzer from Davis pushed MHS in front 33-23 at the break. McKenzie started to extend its lead in the third. Houston County cut the lead to 10, but never got any closer. At the end of the third, the Lady Rebels led 47-37. MHS opened the fourth with a 12-6 surge for a 59-39 advantage.
Gant led the Lady Irish with 26.
Davis had 25 and Mikaela Reynolds had 22 to lead the Lady Rebels, who improve to 24-2. The Lady Rebels will host Clarksburg 7 p.m. Friday in the opening round of the Region 6A tournament.
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On Tuesday, Feb. 15, the hosting Lady Rebels defeated Big Sandy 66-20 in the opening round of the District 11A Tournament. The Lady Rebels held Big Sandy scoreless for the first 5:03 of the game, and McKenzie led 32-14 in the first half and led 53-19 after three.
Savannah Davis led the Lady Rebels 24, Katie Chesser and Kylie Reynolds each had 12. Ashlyn Berry had 10 for the Lady Red Devils.
That same night, the Rebels claimed a 77-25 first-round win over Big Sandy. The Rebels jumped to a 36-12 lead at the half and were never threatened by the visiting Red Devils in the opening round of the District 11A tournament.
The Rebels enjoyed 24-0 run between the first and second quarters. Big Sandy scored its first bucket with 2:15 to play in the second. McKenzie built a 61-21 lead in the third.
Marquez Taylor scored 13, Bryson Steele added 12 and Zach Aird tossed in 10. Thane Berry led Big Sandy with 10.