West Tally Choctaws' successful season endsBy CLAY MCFERRIN,
JACKSON — The West Tallahatchie High School Choctaws came up short in Monday’s state playoff game against the Baldwyn High School Bearcats, losing 61-55 at the Mississippi Coliseum.
The loss came in the semifinals round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A Boys Basketball Championships.
Had the Choctaws won, they would have advanced to the program’s second state title game Thursday at Ole Miss, where they would have faced 35-2 Ingomar, who beat Shaw 64-56 in the other semifinals match on Monday.
This year’s Choctaws, under the direction of third-year head coach Corey Grayson, finished 17-10.
Baldwyn, now 18-12, goes on to the finals to face 36-2 Ingomar, who beat Shaw 64-56 in the other 1A semifinals contest on Monday.
After finishing the 2019-20 regular season with a 14-9 record, the Choctaws won three playoff games to maneuver into position for this year’s semifinals.
In those playoff contests, the Choctaws smashed Sacred Heart 80-37 in Webb, topped Leake County 72-65 on the road and beat West Lowndes 49-40 in the quarterfinals last Thursday at Pearl River Community College.
It was the fourth time in school history that West Tally’s boys had made it to the state semifinals round, and on three of the four occasions they have faced Baldwyn.
» In 2015, Bernard Berryhill’s male unit became the first to get there. They lost 73-67 to the Okolona Chieftains in a Class 2A semifinal.
» In 2016, Berryhill’s team beat Baldwyn 63-44 in the Class 2A semifinals and then captured the 2A state title with a 52-43 win over Coahoma Aggie, finishing with a perfect 34-0 season record.
» In 2017, in Berryhill’s final season as their coach, the Choctaws clawed their way back to the 2A semifinals. This time, the Chocs lost to Baldwyn, 55-54, on a last-second, Hail Mary-type 3-point shot from near midcourt.
In 2019, both Baldwyn and West Tallahatchie fell from 2A to 1A, clearing the way for the playoff rivalry between these two teams to continue.
IN THE PHOTO: The West Tallahatchie Choctaws’ Dontrell Byrd (11) shoots against Baldwyn in the semifinals of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A Basketball Championships on Monday, March 2, at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. (Photo by Chris Todd)