CORNER—Corner High School honored 27 seniors on Friday night as the boys and girls basketball teams wrapped up their home schedule in front of a large crowd. Class of 2020 members representing the school’s basketball program, fishing team, cheerleading squad, bowling and dance teams were recognized on the court following the girls varsity game.
The Yellow Jackets, under the direction of first-year head coach Britani Faile, stormed off to an early lead and marched away with a 52-16 win over Oak Grove. That 36-point margin of victory is the team’s largest of the year, leapfrogging a 48-13 (35 points) win at Oak Grove on opening night in November.
Corner (6-17, 0-8) ran out to an 8-0 advantage and outscored the Tigers by 11 points in the first, seven in the second, five in the third and 13 in the fourth quarter.
Senior Erin Doss punctuated the victory with a deep splash from the corner in the final seconds. She checked in with less than a minute remaining and immediately ran to the corner off an inbound play: catch, release, swish, cheer. Doss’ make set the final tally at 52-16.
Early on it was sophomore Madeline Henson pushing the pace. She got out in transition for a couple first-half layups and later executed some half-court offense with a drive and finish, regathering a blocked shot and kissing a runner off the window to stretch the lead to 21-3 midway through the second quarter.
The Yellow Jackets went to the half with a 24-6 cushion—a lead which quickly grew by eight thanks to some paint points from Sloan Courington and a baseline triple from Henson.
Corner would close out the big win with a 7-for-7 effort at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter. Courington, Jaden Goodwin and Payton Cox teamed up for those free-throw makes.
Up next for the Yellow Jackets is a date with Dora on Monday at the Class 5A, Area 11 Tournament, hosted by Mortimer Jordan.
In the boys game on Thursday, Corner played through foul trouble to hold off Oak Grove, 56-37.
“We fouled way too much. We got out in the lead and started trying to get steals and doing all kinds of crazy stuff, but it was fun for them,” said Corner head coach Billy Conner.
Despite being clocked at the free-throw line, 22 attempts to five, the Yellow Jackets (12-13, 3-5) controlled the contest for 32 minutes. Corner scored 14 points apiece through the first two frames to carry a 28-13 lead into the half and later led 40-28 with eight minutes to go.
Five different players connected from behind the arc, including Cam McAllister, Kaiser Scarbinsky, Braylun Smith, Jaydn Cagle and Mason Norris.
It was however, a steady inside presence that kept the needle moving in favor of the home team. Smith, one of the 27 seniors recognized before tipoff, didn’t score his first points until the second quarter on a 3-pointer that rattled in from the right wing. Smith went home with a team-high 12 points.
Fellow senior Gage Bandy hammered down the win with a effective fourth quarter. Oak Grove defenders struggled to keep him in front as Bandy penetrated and got to the rim over and over again. He missed time due to foul trouble, but Bandy scored seven of his nine points during the final eight minutes of play.
“He’s definitely the leader,” said Conner of Bandy. “He’s our defensive stopper and he’s the captain; everybody knows that they’re going to get hard play out of him.”
Bandy missed part of the season with an injury and his return has been crucial to Conner’s recent success. The Yellow Jackets have won five of their last seven games.
“The first half of the year he [Bandy] had a broken foot, so we’re glad to have him back and he’s back at the right time,” said Conner. “We need him.”
He will be needed next Monday at Mortimer Jordan in the first round of the Class 5A, Area 11 Tournament. Corner tips off against Dora at 6:30 p.m. for a spot in the area semifinals against 1-seed Mortimer Jordan. The Jackets need two tournament wins to reach the playoffs.