YAZOO CITY — St. Joseph Catholic School boys basketball coach James Hunter described his team’s 50-45 victory over Greenville Christian School Saturday in the championship game of the Class AA District-4 tournament as a total team effort.
However, Hunter also noted that the victory, the fourth straight district title for the Fighting Irish, would not have been possible without the solid play of sophomore Jordan Jennings and junior Kaleb Lockett.
Jennings, a point guard, provided a steady hand for the Fighting Irish (14-4) after senior Dillon Johnson fouled out midway through the fourth quarter.
“Jordan is the point guard of the future for us, and he showed once again what he is capable of doing,” Coach Hunter said. “He ran the show for us, and was a big key to the win.”
While Jordan came up big on the offensive end for St. Joseph Saturday, Lockett made a number of pivotal defensive plays for the Irish.
“Caleb really picked up the slack on defense,” Coach Hunter said. “He helped us make a lot of stops.”
The victory for the Fighting Irish snapped Greenville Christian School’s 19-game winning streak also earned St. Joe a first round bye in this week’s MAIS Class 2A South State Championship Tournament at Greenville Christian School. On Thursday, St. Joseph will play the winner of Tuesday’s game between Claiborne (La.) and Centreville Academy.
Greenville Christian is scheduled to play Providence Classical (La.) Tuesday in the first round of the tournament.
Senior Dillon Johnson led St. Joseph with 17 points. Freshman Jerrian King scored 12, and freshman C.J. Moore scored 11. Senior Trey Benson had six points.
Marcus Anderson had 16 points to lead Greenville Christian (20-4). Will Riley scored 10 points, and Jeremiah Hilliard scored seven points.
Along with Jennings and Lockett, Hunter also praised the clutch plays made by C.J. Moore at the end of the game. Moore making his first free throw in the game’s final minute, Moore than grabbed the rebound after his second free throw missed, was fouled, and sank two more free throws.
Coach Hunter and his Fighting Irish lost to Greenville Christian twice this season during the regular season. Last season, they also lost to the Saints twice in the regular season but were able to beat them GCS times in the postseason.
In order for the Saints and the Irish to meet for the fourth time this season, they will have to take down some teams neither is too familiar. Both GCS and St. Joe played in the Class 3A North State Tournament last season, but this season they are playing in the Class 2A South State.
An advantage for having the South State tournament at Greenville Christian this year is that Coach Hunter and GCS Coach Logan Collins will have the opportunity to attend all the boys’ games at the tournament.
“It is stressful for a coach to have to prepare against unfamiliar teams, but at least I will get a chance to see them all play once,” Coach Hunter said.