Photo by Chris Todd

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By Robert Wilson

Defending MHSAA Class 4A state champions Choctaw Central has been known for its suffocating full court pressure for years and Tuesday night the Warriors kept one of the best players in the country scoreless in the first half to get a big lead.

Choctaw Central kept Germantown’s 6-foot-1 senior guard and Texas signee Madison Booker – a two-time USA Basketball Team gold medalist who is rated the No. 3 player in the country – from scoring in the first half and had a 10-point halftime lead.

Photo by Chris Todd

But Germantown made a furious comeback before Choctaw Central junior guard Kylinn Bell made a free throw with 0.2 seconds to play for a 57-56 victory over MHSAA Class 6A state championship contender and previously undefeated Germantown and Booker at Germantown in Gluckstadt.

Choctaw Central – which has three returning starters from last year’s team that finished 28-4 and won the 4A state title – improved to 4-0. Germantown, which has Booker and 6-foot junior forward and Division I prospect Alana Rouser returning from last year’s 24-7 team that reached the semifinals of the 6A state playoffs, dropped to 5-1.

Germantown 5-8 sophomore guard Julia Glasgow – daughter of Germantown coach Jamie Glasgow – led a fourth quarter comeback. She scored eight of her career-high 10 points off the bench in the fourth quarter, including three consecutive free throw attempts with 11.1 seconds to play to tie the game at 56-56.

Choctaw Central forced 22 turnovers and held Germantown to a 32 percent shooting from the field, including 11 percent from 3-point range.

“Our plan was to slow down Booker and we did in the first half,” said Choctaw Central coach Bill Smith, who has won four state titles (three at Choctaw Central and one at Neshoba Central) in his 40 years as a high school head coach. “Our pressure created a few steals and we scored off of those. We were able to run the floor some and get a lead in the first half and increased it to 15 of 16 midway through the third quarter. I told the girls at halftime that Booker would come out and try to take over the game and she did start scoring and Glasgow made some big shots in the fourth quarter. We were lucky to get the free throw in the end to win it.”

Photo by Chris Todd

“I felt like we came out flat in the first half,” Coach Glasgow said. “We didn’t have any defensive intensity, and they took advantage of it. When we picked up the intensity level halfway through the third quarter, we started making a comeback. I am proud that we didn’t quit. We came back from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter against a very good team. Games like this only make us better, and that’s why we play them.”

Rouser – who has Division 1 offers from Southern Miss, Alcorn State, Jackson State, Mississippi Valley, Florida International and Louisiana-Monroe – led Germantown with a career-high 22 points, 16 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocked shots. She had a career-high 22 rebounds last season.

Even though Booker didn’t score in the first half, she had 14 points in the second half. Booker – the two-time PriorityOne Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Girls Basketball Player of the Year and the 2021 Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year – also had 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot. She is rated the No. 3 player in the country in the Class of 2023 by Blue Star Basketball.

Senior Malaka Morris led Choctaw Central with 14 points, senior Keshahn Wallace added 11 and Bell had 10.

Both teams are missing starters (Choctaw Central junior guard Mattison Bell and Germantown sophomore guard Charlie Gamberine) due to knee injuries.