Callaway High School, a 5A classification school, was considered the top team in the state of Mississippi coming into the game, while Velma Jackson, a 3A classification school was a few spots behind them. Although highly ranked, Velma Jackson felt a win over Callaway would be a statement for their basketball program. And it was also a chance for Velma Jackson star player, 4-star Quinndary Weatherspoon, a Mississippi State signee, to prove he was on a similar level as Callaway 5-star recruit Malik Newman.
And Weatherspoon proved that, scoring 25 points, 23 in the second half, to lead his team to the 72-65 win.
"(Quinndary) is a big-time player," said Velma Jackson head coach Anthony Carlyle. "He has been waiting on this game. Actually, we have been waiting on this game for over a year. It was an opportunity for him to prove himself and to prove that we could play among the big schools. He hasn't gotten all the recognition that Malik has received. And Quinndary has constantly worked during the year so he could prove that he is just as good."
During the first half, Carlyle felt his team played well as team. At the half, his team led Callaway by a point, despite Weatherspoon only having scored 2 points.
"We try to preach to our guys to play as a team," said Carlyle. "We feel like, if we get all five of our guys playing together, we can compete with anyone. We aren't individuals. Some nights (Quinndary) is going to have big nights and some nights the other guys are going to step up. That is what we want. We want it where you can't take one person out of their game and stop us from winning."
But in the second half, Callaway took a 5-point lead. And Weatherspoon did what he did best, take control of the game.
"In the first half Coach (Carlyle) told us that we didn't have to prove to anyone that we could play," said Weatherspoon. "He said to play as a team, like we have been doing all year. (But) in the second half, when they went up by five, I told my teammates that I could take it from here. I could put you on my back and we could try to get the W."
Weatherspoon scored 6 points in the third quarter, then took control in the fourth, scoring 17 points. He explained his thought process during the second half.
"We ran the pick and roll and they have a big dude, 6-foot-11, who I know won't step out," said Weatherspoon. "And if he did step out, then it was easy for me to get to the basket. So, I made him come out some so that I could attack."
Early in that quarter he suffered an injury but he fought through it.
"I got hurt when I tried to dunk on that 6-foot-11 (player)," said Weatherspoon. "It was in the fourth quarter with something like 6 minutes left in the game. I had to fight through it, though, to help my team get the W."
In addition to enjoying the win, Weatherspoon also enjoyed watching Callaway's Malik Newman play.
"It was fun seeing him play," said Weatherspoon. "Usually, we are on the same (AAU) team (the Jackson Tigers) during the summer. It was fun playing against him. I like his game. Hopefully, I can get him to Mississippi State."
He even spoke to Newman recently about joining him at Mississippi State.
"We were talking about that the other day," said Weatherspoon. "They are one of his top five schools. So, hopefully, we can land him at Mississippi State."
Weatherspoon is excited about playing at Mississippi State next season.
"I've very excited about going to Mississippi State," he said. "I think I can help rebuild their program and help them get some wins."