Loyd Star continue fun season with win over North Pike in boys’ basketball

Published 11:01 am Monday, December 4, 2023

Loyd Star head boys’ basketball coach Seth Britt has had the 2023-2024 season pegged as one that would be fun for him for a while now.

The seniors on the roster have been playing under Britt’s tutelage since they were in seventh grade, the first group that he’s coached all the way through their junior high and high school careers. 

On Friday at home, the senior trio of Nathan Mills, Colby Terrell and Caden Yarborough led the way as the 2A Hornets (6-0) raced out to an early lead and never let up in 82-64 beating of the 5A North Pike Jaguars.

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“These guys make coaching fun,” said a smiling Britt after the game.

Terrell led the way with 22 points while Mills chipped in 18 points and Yarborough sunk four 3-pointers on the way to scoring 16 points.

Those three are starters alongside junior guard Ethan Smith and sophomore forward Anthony Humphrey. 

North Pike had no answer for either the 6-foot-3 Terrell or the 6-foot-1 Humphrey as they both got rebounds and put-back buckets around the rim.

Terrell was an efficient 10-of-15 from the floor and Humphrey shot 9-of-13. 

Humphrey scored 20 points and Smith chipped in five points. The only scoring from the Loyd Star bench was one point by junior guard Xavier Vaughn.

Loyd Star scores on their home court like a group of guys that have spent countless hours putting up shots during the season and off-season.

Before North Pike had caught its breath, Loyd Star had jumped out to a 22-12 first quarter lead and they maintained a double-digit advantage for the rest of the night.

Yarborough knocked down two 3-pointers in the opening 8-minutes of play while Humphrey scored nine points in the first quarter. 

North Pike is coached by former South Pike head coach Joe Taylor and dropped to 4-5 on the season with the loss. Taylor took over last season as North Pike finished the 2022-2023 season with a 1-24 record. The Jaguars have not finished with a record above .500 since the 2016-2017 campaign.

Loyd Star led 42-26 at halftime, but North Pike did use some full-court pressure at the start of the third quarter to speed things up.

The Jaguars whittled the lead down to 52-42 with 3:05 left in the third quarter as Britt called a timeout to regroup his team.

One thing that Loyd Star does is crash the glass. The Hornets usually have four men out on the perimeter with Terrell and Humphrey taking turns working inside. 

When a shot goes up, Mills and Yarborough run in from the 3-point line to try and get hands on a ball. Yarborough collected an offensive rebound and put it back up for a basket just before the third quarter horn as Loyd Star closed the period on an 11-3 run to make the score 63-45 going into the final quarter.

These Hornets only played at one speed on Friday and that breakneck pace allowed North Pike to again trim the lead to 10 points early in the fourth quarter.

Once again facing full-court pressure, Loyd Star turned the ball over on six straight trips as the Jags trimmed the advantage to 63-53.

Britt let his senior trio play through it and they quickly righted the ship as back-to-back-to-back baskets by Terrell and Mills and Yarborough made the lead 69-53 and put an end to the North Pike comeback bid.

“I have always stressed with these seniors since they were in seventh grade, that every day in the gym, every day at practice is a chance to get better and improve your game,” said Britt. “Sometimes it might be something small, but they’ve been great role models to my younger guys with the focus that they bring day in and day out.”

Terrell has been a varsity starter since his freshman year and was a Daily Leader All-Area selection as both a sophomore and junior. He’ll soon cross the 1,000-point mark in his career at Loyd Star.

He’s averaging 18.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game and does all that without dominating possession of the ball. He averages almost three offensive rebounds per game, and he takes advantage of opponents that don’t block-out around the rim with his put-back game.

Mills was also an All-Area selection as a junior. He’s averaging a career high 16.8 points per night. He’s also chipping in 5.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals per night. Mills is a slasher that gets to the basket and can finish high off the backboard with contact. He’s 6-foot-2 and uses his length to go over smaller defenders.

Twice against North Pike he drifted out to the corner on a baseline out-of-bounds play and knocked down a 3-pointer when the Jags were slow with their closeouts. He also led the way with seven assists against North Pike.

Yarborough is also very comfortable shooting the corner 3-pointer, but like Mills, he’s become more than just a spot-up shooter. He’s averaging 11.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.4 steals per game.

Whether in man-to-man or a zone, the Hornets do a solid job of keeping an eye on the ball and Yarborough is the most opportunistic at creating turnovers when the opposition floats out a lazy pass.

Humphrey, who didn’t start playing basketball until eighth grade at Loyd Star, is averaging 11.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

Those four that average in double figures start alongside Smith, who’s averaging a team best 3.6 assists per game and can play the point or slide over to the wing.

Vaughn, junior Eli Thornton and junior Carter Britt make up the first three substitutes off the bench for the Hornets. 

Loyd Star hosts MAIS member Amite School Center on Friday and then hosts Puckett on Dec. 12 before traveling to face North Pike in Summit on Dec. 15. They’ll open Region 7-2A play at home against West Lincoln on Dec. 18 and will likely face their toughest test of the season thus far on the next night when they host Lawrence County on Dec. 19.

The Hornets finished in third place last year in Region 7-2A behind Bogue Chitto and East Marion. They lost 67-63 to East Marion in the region tournament semifinals in a tight game that went to overtime. 

They lost 72-63 to Kemper County in the first round of the MHSAA 2A Playoffs. Kemper County would then later be eliminated 45-35 by Bogue Chitto in the state quarterfinals. 

In other area high school boys’ basketball played on Friday, Bogue Chitto beat St. Andrew’s 61-41, Brookhaven High blasted Franklin County 72-38, Lamar School held off Brookhaven Academy 58-50, South Pike beat Lawrence County 45-33 and Wesson got its first win of the season 50-30 at Salem. On Saturday, Bogue Chitto remained unbeaten by bouncing Enterprise 62-28.