MACON, Miss, - Noxubee County head coach T.J. Billups had some concerns coming into Tuesday night's opening round of the MHSAA 4A State Playoffs against Vicksburg.
His Tigers were coming off a 13-point loss in the Region 4 Championship to New Hope and Billups was not sure how his team would respond.
As it turns out he had nothing to worry about. Noxubee County left little doubt in a convincing 77-54 win over the Wildcats.
"I think we came out and we played good considering our last game we lost to New Hope," Billups said. "I was wondering how they were going to respond and they came out and played well."
The Tigers were once again led by Mississippi State signee Shaunessy Smith with 18 points. Smith scored 13 of his points in the first half but was only used sparingly in the second with the game already in hand.
"Shaun gave us the consistent effort that he always does," Billups said. "We didn't have to use him much in the second half because we had guys coming off the bench contributing both offensively and defensively."
One of those players that stepped up off the bench was Daquarius Mallard. Mallard drained four 3-pointers and finished second on the team with 14 points.
"Mallard is used to coming in and always hits big shots for us," Billups said. "He does a great job only being a sophomore. Every time he shoots the ball everybody on the bench thinks it is going in."
Kendrick Hollings was the only other Noxubee County player in double figures with 11.
The Tigers jumped out to a 26-14 lead in the first quarter and extended the lead to 42-27 by halftime. Noxubee County continued the onslaught in the second half holding a 58-36 advantage by the end of the third quarter.
Clarksdale was paced by Tyrell Landfair with 16 points followed by Colby Fisher with 13 points and Cedric Blue with 10.
The win improved the Tigers record to 14-12 on the year and they will now travel to Jackson, Miss., and Callaway High School to take on Vicksburg Thursday at 4 p.m. in the North Quarterfinals.