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Wilkinson County Christian Academy finishes third in MAIS State Tournament

LEARNED — After a loss to eventual state champion Delta Streets Academy in a semifinal-round game last Friday afternoon, the Wilkinson County Christian Academy Rams needed to defeat Delta Academy just 24 hours later to advance to the 2021 MAIS Overall Basketball Tournament.

Led by a 35-point performance by Andrew Sessions and a change of defense in the fourth quarter that caught Delta Academy off guard, the WCCA Rams rallied to defeat the Raiders 67-63 in the third-place game of the Class 1A State Tournament at Rebul Academy.

“That was a good ball game,” Rams head coach Ken Perry said Monday morning. “Defensively, we threw a 1-3-1 half-court press and utilized our traps. We put pressure on them at the end. We got a couple of key steals. And we made our foul shots.”

And that change proved to be crucial after WCCA, the South No. 2 seed, went into the fourth quarter trailing the Raiders 49-45. The Rams put up 22 points in that quarter while holding the Raiders to just 14 points.

Delta Academy, the North No. 2 seed, dropped to the third-place game after a heart-breaking one-point loss to South No. 1 seed Riverdale Academy in the other semifinal game in the boys’ bracket. And it looked like the Raiders were in control of the action after taking a 20-18 lead after one quarter of play and 33-28 at halftime.

The only thing that Delta Academy didn’t do in the first half was keep Andrew Sessions from making shots from the outside. He ended up making five 3-pointers in the game.

“Andrew had a good game. Delta Streets kind of shut him down. Delta Academy didn’t have that one-man defense to stop him,” Perry said. “They went to a 2-3 on him and he was hitting his outside shots early. Once they tried to stop that, Andrew started to drive to the goal to hit the shots at the end.”

Roderick Bailey contributed in a big way for the Rams with 15 points and Ben Sessions finished with six points. Gabriel Moore led the Raiders with 28 points and made four 3-pointers while Ethan Moore had 14 points. Andrew Sessions and RJ Fisher were named to the All-Tournament Team.

When asked what it feels like for the Rams to advance to the Overall Tournament, Perry said, “That feels good. I though we should’ve won Friday. You go to what I call the consolation games and you try to get motivated and get your team motivated. And that’s what we did. Our whole goal before the season was to win the state championship. After we got into the game with Delta, we played well. We shot the ball well.”

WCCA (22-3) took on Class 3A state champion Clinton Christian Academy Tuesday night at the Madison-Ridgeland Academy gym in Madison in the first round of the Overall Tournament.

“They’re another Delta Streets,” Perry said, referring to the Warriors. “They pressure the ball. They’re quick, fast. They’ve got a couple of good shooters. We’ve got our hands full.”

Delta Streets Academy boys 73, WCCA 60 (Friday)

LEARNED — Wilkinson County Christian Academy had no answer for Delta Streets Academy junior guard JT Lawrence, who torched the Rams for 47 points as the North No. 1 seed Lions pulled away in the second half for a 73-60 win last Friday afternoon in the boys’ semifinals of the 2021 MAIS Class 1A State Tournament at Rebul Academy.

Delta Streets jumped out to a 26-12 lead by the end of the first quarter and WCCA head coach Ken Perry said the lead ballooned to 35-12 early in the second quarter before the Rams stormed back thanks to a 23-1 run to trail by just one point, 36-35, at the half.

“We didn’t get back quick enough at first,” Perry said. “They pressed the whole game. We settled down with quick hands, quick feet. We didn’t run with them. They got a couple of steals early. We got over that adversity from early in the game.”

With Lawrence as well as Javeion Smith leading Delta Streets in scoring, the Lions outscored the Rams 15-9 in the third quarter and 22-16 in the fourth quarter. Smith finished with 10 points.

“It got to the point where we had to foul and they made their foul shots,” Perry said. “We had our chances. We missed 17 points on the foul line. If we make our foul shots, we’ve got a chance.”

RJ Fisher led WCCA with 28 points while Andrew Sessions was held to 12 points.

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