Neshoba Central's TJ Ben drives toward the goal to get a shot in Saturday during the Rockets' 71-65 win over Philadelphia. Defending for the Tornadoes is Ricky Triplett.
Neshoba Central's TJ Ben drives toward the goal to get a shot in Saturday during the Rockets' 71-65 win over Philadelphia. Defending for the Tornadoes is Ricky Triplett.
The Neshoba Central boys basketball team continued its winning ways through the weekend with a victory over local rival Philadelphia.

The Rockets opened the week with a 66-54 victory over Choctaw Central. They then played the Tornadoes in the Philadelphia Invitational and took a 71-65 victory. Neshoba Central entered the week with a 9-0 record.

Though obviously pleased with his team's record, Coach Jerry Byrd expressed some concerns as the season progresses.

"In our last three games, we haven't been playing well in the first half," Byrd said. "We have come on strong and played well enough to win in the second half. But as we are getting closer to our region schedule, we aren't going to be able to get away with that. We have to play well all four quarters to win. That's something we have to work on."

Neshoba Central was to visit Northeast Lauderdale on Monday and then play in the Choctaw Central tournament Friday and Saturday. Neshoba Central takes on Leake Central Friday with the girls playing at 4 p.m. and the boys following at 5:30 p.m. Union and Choctaw Central play in the night games with the winners playing the winners and the losers playing the losers on Saturday.

The Rockets fell behind 14-13 after the first quarter in the Choctaw Central game. The Warriors outscored Neshoba Central 18-15 in the second quarter and went up 32-28 at the half. The Rockets took control of the game in the third quarter as they outscored the Warriors 17-6 and led 45-38 heading into the final quarter. Neshoba Central outscored the Warriors 21-16 in the final period to claim the win. TJ Ben led the Rockets with 23 points while Bobby Anderson added 16 points.

The Rockets then took on Philadelphia for the first time in two seasons in varsity basketball. And again it was a tale of two halves. In the first half, Philadelphia had the lead. The Tornadoes went up 20-19 in the first quarter and outscored the Rockets 18-15 in the second quarter to post a 38-34 halftime lead. The Rockets used their pressure defense and control the lane in the second half to quickly take control of the game. Neshoba Central went up 57-52 by the end of the third quarter and outscored the Tornadoes 14-13 in the final eight minutes to preserve the victory.

Gary Willis scored 26 points to lead the Rockets while TJ Ben added 20 and Christian Mingo scored 16.



Girls

The Neshoba Central Lady Rockets entered the week with a 4-4 record after splitting a pair of games last week. The Lady Rockets lost a 48-36 decision to Choctaw Central, and then defeated Philadelphia 48-43.

Choctaw Central took the lead in the first quarter, going up 16-9. The Lady Warriors outscored Neshoba Central 12-11 in the second quarter and led 28-20 at the intermission. The Lady Warriors maintained their distance in the second half as they held on for the victory. Danisha Marshall led the Lady Rockets with 16 points.

Neshoba Central's game with Philadelphia went down to the final minute before the Lady Rockets pulled it out.

Philadelphia led 8-7 after the first quarter. The Lady Rockets came back to outscore Philadelphia 17-5 in the second quarter and carried a 24-13 lead in at the half.

Philadelphia rallied in the third quarter, holding the Lady Rockets to seven points. The Lady Tornadoes pulled within two points - 31-29 - at the break and tied the game at 34-34 with 3:08 left to play. The Lady Rockets went back up but it was still a two point game - 45-43 - with 12 seconds left to play. Hannah Williams sank a pair of free throws with two seconds left to clinch the win.

Marshall led the Lady Tornadoes with 10 points while Hailey Lunderman added nine.