By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MEMPHIS — The Soulsville Tornadoes just kept hanging around behind the play of Deyreon Demby, Jalonnie Spears and Katerion Curry.
The Tornado faithful were buzzing in the AutoZone Gymnasium on the campus of the Stax Museum as the halftime score was 31-23 in favor of the Munford Cougars.
Then Munford Head Basketball Coach Ryan Ross made a crucial change coming out of the locker room on defense. That call to start trapping Soulsville guards led to Munford outscoring the Tornadoes 20-9 in the third period. The Cougars went on to earn victory No. 1 by the score of 71-41.
“It feels good to get one in the win column,” Ross said. “The thing that I was really proud of was defensively the second half. That’s where it’s going to start with us all year. We’ve got to get stops. We’re pretty good when we get out in transition, get the Cunningham brothers out in transition, Yelvington in transition.”
Zach Yelvington got players like Kyree and Kylan Cunningham involved from his point guard position. Other Cougars to jump into the scoring column in the first half were James Farrow, Jashawn Adell and Landon Winter.
Winter hit a floater in the lane and drained a triple to put Munford ahead 22-13 in the second quarter. Curry paced Soulsville at that point with a couple of baskets in the lane making the tally 24-17.
Moments later Winter hit another three-pointer to make the score 28-17. Curry answered back with an old-fashion three-point play to make the tally 28-20.
The Cougars went up 30-20 when TJ Tyus drove in the lane for a layout. The Tornadoes cut into the deficit with a Spears three-pointer. After a foul shot the Cougars were nursing a 31-23 lead.
Ross employed the pressure defense when Soulsville made the score 31-25. Farrow was the first to benefit from the trap defense with a layout leading to a 18-7 run for the Cougars. During that outburst, Yelvington made back-to-back steal leading to a pair of baskets giving Munford a 10-point advantage at 42-32.
The Cougar advantage grew to 13 points courtesy of a Kylan three-point play. Kylan made a shot in the lane seconds later making the score 47-32. Yelvington created another turnover leading to a basket making the lead 17 points. Munford was ahead 51-32 going into the fourth quarter.
“We haven’t been getting enough of those,” Ryan said. “Today in the second half, I think we took a step in the right direction there. It’s good to get some young guys some time and get the future some work. All in all it was a good night. We’ve still got a long way to go. We have to still put in some work.”
The Cougars relaxed the pressure midway through the fourth quarter but still head Soulsville to 9 points in the period. Meanwhile Munford tallied 20 points to earn a 30-point victory.
Ryan said the victory was a positive overall and the success of the pressure defense was another step forward for his team.
“I think we’ve certainly got better at it,” he said. “What we can do with it against the athletes Millington and Brighton will have. We want to play faster. Since I’ve been here, I wanted to play faster. Just didn’t think we had the personnel or the athletes at the time. So the kids we have now it’s not really something they’re really used to.
“I did think that kind of changed the game getting them in traps and forcing turnovers,” Ryan concluded. “And even when you don’t create turnovers, you force them to take some quick shots which led to transition for us. As long as we’re working hard, that is definitely something we want to do moving forward.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.