JACKSON — Holmes County Central flew under the radar for much of the 2020 season before crashing the “Big House” party to win the 5A state championship.
Despite the big target on their back, Malik Crigler and Co. are right on schedule.
The Jaguars whipped Madison Central 63-45 Wednesday to run their winning streak to five games since all their players returned from football and/or COVID-19 protocol.
Consider the past seven days for Holmes County: They beat defending 4A Champ Lanier last Wednesday, perennial powerhouse Forest Hill Thursday, Jim Hill Monday, Leake Central Tuesday and then Madison Central.
“I feel good about where we are, just have to stay focused,” Holmes coach DeAngelo Priar said. “This was our fifth game since everyone was back together and we’re playing pretty well. It’s different coming off a championship, because you are getting everyone’s best shot. But we’ve handled the pressure well so far.”
They certainly did against the Jaguars on Wednesday at the Forest Hill Gym.
Madison Central (9-7) came out hot, as Shane Davis picked up a couple of early buckets and Isiah Spencer and Jackson Payne both hit three-pointers to put the Jaguars ahead 14-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Holmes County stormed back in the second quarter. Ricarvis Waters hit a three-pointer, and Janari Powell and Malik Crigler both scored a couple of buckets as the Jaguars fought their way to a 27-23 halftime lead.
The Jaguars went to a three-quarter press in the third quarter, and it only exacerbated Madison Central’s troubles. The Jaguars struggled to make open shots, and Holmes County Central got the lob-game going off defensive rebounds.
And when Holmes County starts running the floor, it’s over — they out-scored the Madison County foes 21-4 in the third quarter.
“We wanted to control the game,” Priar said. “We liked where we were at the half, but we want to control it from start to finish, and we thought the press might help us pick up the tempo and create more scoring opportunities.”
Crigler scored on two layups and hit back-to-back corner three-pointers to set the pace. He finished with a game-high 17 points. Campbell scored 12.
Kent had 14 points to lead Madison Central. Payne chipped in nine.