DOYLINE – Minden fans could not have scripted a better Doyline Tournament outcome.
The Crimson Tide (7-6) and Lady Tiders (10-2) played inspired basketball over the weekend, and against solid opponents, to come away with championships in the boys and girls bracket of the Doyline Tournament.
After defeating Doyline 66-60 in the semifinals, Minden defeated Red River 51-49 in the championship game in front of a raucous crowd to earn their title. The Tide trailed by double digits most of the night before mounting a fourth-quarter comeback capped by one of the season’s most chaotic endings.
Minden began their comeback by switching up their lineup, removing their forwards in favor of a smaller,
quicker five on the floor. The move paid off immediately, as the Bulldogs began turning the ball over against full-court pressure allowing the Tide to crawl back into contention.
Zi Crawford and A’Sean Davis each had big buckets to set the final sequence in motion for Jalone Branch to become the unlikely hero.
Branch, a senior who has waited his turn to play significant minutes, came through in the clutch, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers in the final 2 1/2 minutes of play. After Minden scored again to tie things up, a bit of a gaffe occurred when the Tide fouled a Bulldog guard with 10 seconds remaining in the game. However, Red River would miss both free throws.
With the game still tied on Minden’s final possession, the Tide went to Branch who put up a shot and was fouled with one tick left on the clock. Branch, who scored just two points the night before in the semifinals, knocked down both free throws to essentially win the game. A final Red River prayer on the inbounds pass fell victim to the Doyline gym’s unusually-low ceiling, ending the game in bizarre fashion.
“The guys just made plays,” Minden head coach Rennie Bailey said. “We went small there in the fourth quarter and they started throwing the ball away. Jalone Branch stepped up and hit two free throws to win the game. I just can’t say enough about these guys and their resilience. They would not be defeated.”
Crawford and Davis each led the team with 13 points and Branch finished with 9 points, including the winning free throws.
The Lady Tiders won their title with more ease, cruising past the North Webster Lady Knights by a score of 63-36. Minden’s stiffest test came in the semifinals against Woodlawn in a 56-50 decision.
It marks the second consecutive season the Lady Tiders have hoisted a tournament championship trophy.
“I thought our girls did an excellent job of breaking the press and running through our offenses this weekend,” Lady Tiders head coach Jacob Brown said. “North Webster jumped out on us 5-2 early, but we responded with a 16-2 run and really controlled the rest of the ball game from there.”
The Lady Tiders shot the ball extremely-well in the tournament, something they will hope to get more of this coming week.
Bre Rodgers led the team in scoring with 17 points, followed by Strawberry Batton with 15 points, Shi Loftin with 8 points and Derrica Gilbert with 6 points.
In the semifinal game against Woodlawn, a team the Lady Tiders will see twice more this season, Bre Rodgers led the way with 22 points, followed by Sha Whiting and Strawberry Batton with 11 points each.
The Crimson Tide and Lady Tiders are rolling at the right time, as the Minden Holiday Classic begins Wednesday in the “Friendliest City in the South.”
Tournament brackets for the Holiday Classic will be released in Tuesday’s Minden Press-Herald.