The Commercial Appeal
Northwest Rankin, Brandon to face off for the 6A state title
The road to the MHSAA Class 6A boys basketball championship runs through Rankin County.
Northwest Rankin clinched its spot to the state championship game with a 12-point victory over Horn Lake on Wednesday and Brandon quickly followed with a 77-49 blowout victory over Olive Branch.
Isaiah Smith’s layup with two minutes left in the third quarter gave the Bulldogs a 46-23 lead. Marcel Bridge’s emphatic dunk with 3:05 remaining put Brandon up by 28 points.
Bridges had 17 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. The senior was joined by Isaiah Davis, who finished with a game-high 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting. The duo was determined not to let the Bulldogs fall victim to another blown lead in the semifinals, which ended their season a year ago.
“”The whole theme of this season has been redemption,” Brandon coach Fredrick Barnes said. “The last time we played in this coliseum we felt embarrassed about the way that we performed. We had a big lead late in the game. We gave it away. We felt like that was our championship to win and we let it go.”
The Bulldogs gave up a 12-3 run to loss to Clinton 62-59 in last season’s semifinal matchup, all after Kimani Hamilton – The Gatorade Player of the Year – fouled out for the Arrows.
“We knew we needed to be back there in the coliseum,” Davis said. “We’re doing this for Coach Barnes. Redemptions means we go back and win this for coach Barnes.”
The Bulldogs swept Northwest Rankin in the regular season with a fourpoint victory on Nov. 12 and a 49-4 victory on Dec. 16. The cross-town rivals will play at 7 p.m., Saturday at the Mississippi Coliseum.
“It’s going to be big,” Barnes said. “It’s all Rankin County. I think a lot of people have been looking forward to this.
“Not just a rivalry game but a rivalry game for a gold ball.”