The Tigers and Lady Tigers will play in the Region 5-3A tournament at Southeast Lauderdale beginning Monday.
The top two seeds in the six-team tournament will draw first round byes and advance to the semifinals Wednesday. Neither Winona team will receive a bye. Monday’s winners will advance to the semifinals and will qualify for the state tournament beginning February 18.
The other teams in what might be the state’s strongest 3A region are Southeast Lauderdale, Choctaw Central, Forrest, Kemper County and Morton.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers both dropped three games against very strong competition. The Lady Tigers were beaten by Choctaw Central, the defending state champion and top ranked team in 3A, 65-26, second ranked Forest 65-24 and Grenada, a 6A school, 43-36.
“It was a rough go,” said coach Frank Miller. “They say to be the best you have to play the best, but I don’t know how much good it will do us to when we play teams that are so much more skilled. When you play teams that are so much better than you, it’s hard to keep the team together and focused.”
Tommesha Brown was the Lady Tigers’ leading scorer against Grenada and Choctaw Central with 18 and 13 points. MyCala Helms scored 11 points in the Forest game.
The Tigers were defeated by Forest 70-44, Grenada 69-57 and third ranked Choctaw Central 60-31.
“We got down early against Choctaw Central,” said coach Presley Coleman. “We came out flat and you cannot come out flat against one of the best teams in 3A. We didn’t have the same energy that we had against Grenada. We kind of sleepwalked through the first few minutes of the game.”
James Shelton and Davandre Bays had nine points each against Choctaw County.
The Tigers led Grenada 26-25 at the half, but were outscored 28-14 in the third quarter. Coleman said playing Forest one night earlier might have been a factor.
“We just looked a little fatigued. Maybe it was playing two nights in a row. We made a few mistakes and they got some easy layups.”
Roberts McMath led the Tigers against Grenada with 14 points. An’Darius Coffey had 13, Shelton 11, Sean Merritt 10 and Bays 9. Grenada shot 52 percent (25-48), led by Emmanuel Forbes with 17 points and Jamal Hemphill with 16, Winona trailed Forrest by only two, 14-12, after one quarter, but was outscored 23-12 in the second period. “We played hard. We just didn’t execute,” Coleman said.
Shelton had 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists, Merritt 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers played Morton Tuesday and conclude the regular season with games at Southeast Lauderdale Friday. The results of those games will determine tournament seeds and opening round opponents.