And then there were 3

By JOSHUA CAMPBELL,

The end of basketball season in Marion County is closing in swiftly with three teams being eliminated from the playoffs Tuesday night.

Defending Class 1A state champ East Marion was bounced in the 2A playoffs in Philadelphia, falling 72-61 after being tied 39-39 at the half. It’s been an odd transition year for the Eagles, who moved back up to 2A and lost some key pieces from their championship run.

The biggest blow was losing Vashon Sims, an ultra-talented 6-foot-4 shooting guard, to injury after he was in a car accident during the summer. He’s expected to return for his senior season next year and rejoin Caleb Rawls, Cameron Walker, Carlos Stubbs and Deuce Johnson in the lineup.

Both Columbia teams lost at Yazoo County as well, with the Wildcats falling 97-62 after getting behind 29-11 going into the second quarter.

The Wildcats’ season didn’t end quite fairly either. They lost their best wing, Darius Stewart, to a broken leg the fourth game of the season then center Jaheim Oatis in the regular season finale. They’re graduating two rotation players this year, but the Wildcats should improve with the return of Stewart and Oatis.

The Lady Wildcats also fell behind at Yazoo early, scoring just four first-quarter points in a 64-47 loss. Columbia had been playing its best basketball of the season, but it lacked a true inside presence and positional size across the board. It will graduate point guard Kadajah Cook, who really came on at the end of the year, 3-point specialist Aly Dunaway and Janayiah Willis.

Now there are just three Marion County teams left: both Columbia Academy teams and the East Marion Lady Eagles.

The Cougars are looking to avenge 2017’s disappointing end after they won south state only to be upset in the first round of the state tournament. As the south state champion this time around, CA will square off against Lee Academy at 5:15 this evening at Canton Academy.

The Lady Cougars take the court today at 4 p.m. at Canton Academy against Central Holmes in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament. They placed third in the south state tournament.

The Lady Eagles have to wait until Friday to get back on the hardwood after besting Lake 47-35 in overtime Monday to advance to the second round of the 2A playoffs. They will tip off at Bay Springs at 6.

Pictured Above: Columbia's Chandler Carver defends a Tylertown ball handler Feb. 13 in the Region 8-3A tournament. | Photo by Joshua Campbell