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Notes From State 

From mercy rule to state

McKenzie ventured to Henry County on Dec 20, a shade over two weeks after the Rebels played in the state football championship. 

Given how his team played that night, Rebel coach John Wilkins wondered if his team would reach double-digit victories this year.

Henry County vanquished the Rebels 75-37. At halftime, the officials notified Wilkins that the clock would run in the second half. 

“I’d never been on that side of the conversation before,” Wilkins said. “We were getting mercy-ruled at Henry County and I was ready to quit and find another profession.”

His remarks drew laughs from the gallery. 

“You have no idea how far this team has come. A few weeks later, we play Henry County and lose by 10, and now, I think these guys believe we could beat them if we played again,” the coach said. “We were getting mercy ruled and now we’re up here at the state tournament.”

***

Heart and rebounds

When the Rebels opened their game with Peabody Thursday, they found themselves in a big rebounding disadvantage. The Tide had an early  9-0 edge.  By game’s end, McKenzie outpaced the Tide in that category 46-36. McKenzie’s Bryson Steele had 18 rebounds himself. 

“It is a little surprising because, on paper, they are a little bit bigger and stronger,” Wilkins said. Then he pointed to his heart. “We have enough heart. Bryson Steele, at 5-10 or 5-11, had 18 boards tonight. He just wanted the ball more than they did.”

***

Big year for Taylor

McKenzie’s Marquez Taylor is a highly sought-after football prospect who was a Class A Mr. Football finalist this year and played for a state football championship and played in the state basketball tournament.

That’s a unique experience, he acknowledged .

“But it really sucks losing both of them. I hope to be back next year for one of them, maybe both of them.”

Taylor may be a candidate for December graduation and an early college enrollee next January.

***

Mansfield will miss seniors

West  Carroll will bid adieu to six seniors this year: Andrew Huff, Jalen Anglin,  Xander Moon, Andre Iloff, Josh Clark and Riley Duncan.

War Eagle coach Ryan Mansfield says these seniors made him a better coach. 

“I told them I was very honored to be their head coach this year,” he said, “but it’s not just a head-coach thing, it’s a team thing. We got back to where we wanted but we wanted to go further, but the chips didn’t fall. I told them I loved ’em and I’ll always be there for them.”

***

Anglin is fine

With 7:43 to play in the fourth, Anglin went down with what appeared to be an ankle injury. He soon returned to the floor. After the game, he disclosed that he really just needed a breather. 

“They were pressing full court and that kind of wore down my energy,” he said. 

***

West Carroll incentive

After losing by four to MAHS in the state quarterfinals last year, Mansfield said a lot of people were pulling against West Carroll returning to the Glass House. 

“People didn’t want to see us come back up here. They were betting against us,” Mansfield said. “I saw the adversity they had to go through and they saw the adversity I had to go through. It was thrilling to see how they responded. “

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