By: Jim Steele
McKenzie sprinted to a big first-half lead and was never threatened in its 60-29 victory over Natchez Trace Youth Academy during the DIstrict 11A boys' basketball tournament at Bethel University Saturday.
How thorough was the victory? The Rebels took a 31-7 lead with 3:49 to play in the first half. Had they not scored again, they still would have won the game. McKenzie missed its first four shots and sputtered a bit early, then it warmed up to take a 16-5 lead in the first quarter.
The Rebels rolled to a 43-point lead after Evan Jarrett's two free throws with 3:26 to play in the third. The Trailblazers cut the lead to 30 but got no closer. As a result, McKenzie earned a spot in the Region 5A tournament.
Nate Whitsell led a balanced McKenzie attack with 13 points. Ben Austin scored 11 and Lucas King added 12.
Lorenzo White led Natchez Trace with eight. Jumaine Johnson and Jermaine Jackson each had six. The loss ended the Trailblazers's season.
McKenzie, 21-7, will take on West Carroll, who beat Big Sandy 69-37 in the quarterfinals Saturday, 7:30 Tuesday night in the 11A semifinals.