YAZOO CITY — For a team to still have an undefeated record deep into the postseason, it needs more than just star players. It also needs guys who are willing to do the tough work, the unheralded ones, who are playing not for themselves but for their team.
The GCS Saints (15-0) have a number of team-first players like this, including KD Rancifer who played so well this past weekend that he was named to the All-District 4 2A tournament team. Along with Rancifer, Greenville Christian's DJ Smith, Daishun Scott, as well as St. Joseph's Jerrian King and Omar Emmons also made the All-District team.
“KD Rancifer is one of our many unsung heroes,” said GCS coach Logan Collins. “He does not get a lot of publicity because we have other guys, but he is very important for us. He gets rebounds, tipped balls and always plays defense with a real toughness.”
Other quiet, yet strong, teammates for the Saints this season include Josh Curtis, Kerrick Ross, Eric Ekanem, Marlon Palmer, Will Riley, among many others.
This toughness was on display again Saturday night in the Saints’ 63-52 victory over St. Joseph in the championship game of the District-4 Class 2A tournament.
St. Joseph jumped out to an early lead on the Saints, but in the second half GCS showed its mettle and took a 10-point lead, 44-34, going into the fourth. St. Joseph would get to within seven points in the fourth quarter but not any closer.
The Saints were led by a balanced scoring attack with D.J. Smith leading the way with 14 points. Daishun Scott scored 11 points for GCS. Josh Curtis had 12. Eric Ekanem scored 8, and KD Rancifer scored 10.
The victory was payback, of sorts, for Greenville Christian. Last season, the Saints beat the Irish twice (like this year) in the regular season before being beaten in last year’s district tournament by the Irish.
“Honestly, I think in a bunch of their minds they thought about them beating us last year,” Coach Collins said. “But, they also knew we were a different team. I was very proud of how they handled adversity, and how they handled the challenge.”
Jerrian King, St. Joseph’s leading scorer this season, came up big again this Saturday, finishing with 23 points. Omar Emmons scored 14 points for St. Joe, and Phillon Johnson scored 8 points.
“We gave everything we had,” St. Joe coach James Hunter said. “We just had a bad spell halfway through the second quarter. We could not stop them. All and all I really believe that we are going to play them one or two more times hopefully.”
Neither the Saints nor the Irish have much time to rest. Both teams are scheduled to play in the South State 2A Basketball Tournament this week in Sylva Bay Academy.
Greenville Christian has a bye in the opening round of the South 2A Basketball Tournament. The Saints first game in the South State tournament will be on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against the winner of Monday’s Union Christian-Centreville Academy game.
St. Joseph also has a bye in the South State Tournament.
The Irish’s first game in the tournament will be Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. St. Joseph will play the winner of Monday’s Discovery Christian Glenbrook School. against the
“We need games where we have to battle because every game going forward for the most part is going to be like this,” Coach Collins said. “St. Joe came out and played with great effort, and we expect that. It was a rivalry game for the district championship game.”