Rebels Reach the MAIS Overall Final Four

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 Above:  Piers Carroll (#35) tips off against Jackson Prep

Submitted by Central Private School
    The Central Private Varsity boys wrapped up their basketball season last Friday night, advancing as far as the MAIS Overall Championships Final 4. This is the second farthest the school has advanced since it became a member of the MAIS. The Rebels finished the 2011-2012 season with a record of 32-8. 
    The Rebels started the month long play-off schedule by winning the MAIS 6-AA District Championship, the school’s second time in as many years. 
    Returning junior shooting guard Simpson Anderson responded to the back- to-back district championship by saying, “Winning the district twice was not our goal, but it is a good feeling.”
    By winning the district, the boys qualified for the South State AA Tournament. CPS easily won its first elimination game over Sylva Bay Academy of Bay Springs, MS, 69-35. 
    The Rebels won their second round game over Trinity Episcopal School of Natchez, MS, in overtime, outscoring Trinity 18-2 in overtime.  CPS went on to win the game 70-54. 
    “We got hot at the right time,” said senior shooting guard Lance Wicker; he finished the game with 19 points. 
    With the win the Rebels advanced to the South AA Championship Tournament where they fell short against Brookhaven Academy of Brookhaven, MS, 63-49. CPS advanced to the MAIS Class AA State Tournament as a #2 seed from South AA. Simpson Anderson, Piers Carroll, and Alex Overs all received All-South State honors.
    The team then traveled five and a half hours north to Grenada, MS, for the MAIS Class AA State Tournament. In a first round elimination game the Rebels beat Immanuel Christian School of Steens, MS, by the score of 71- 57.
    Head Coach Henry Gantz was very pleased with his team’s performance in the opening round of state: “We had four guys score double digits; when we play that balanced on offense, it’s pretty tough to beat us.” Senior All Star point guard Alex Overs finished the night with 19 points and 7 assists.
    CPS then advanced to unfamiliar territory, the AA State Semifinals. Lack of experience and foul trouble plagued the Rebels late in the 4th quarter and the Rebels came up short after leading 4 quarters of the game. The Rebels lost the game to Marshall Academy (Holly Springs, MS) by a final score of 63-55 in a defensive battle. Marshall would go on to win its second straight state championship. 
    The loss put CPS in a go-home consolation game; the winner would advance to the MAIS Overall Championship. The MAIS Overall Tournament combines all classes to have 1 overall champion of all teams.  The Rebels had not advanced to the Overall’s since 2001. The pressure did not faze CPS as they cruised past district rival Bowling Green School (Franklinton, LA) 61-34. Carroll and Overs were named to the All-State Team.
    The Rebels advanced as the #3 seed from class AA, where in first round action they faced AAA East Rankin Academy of Pelahatchie, MS. CPS knew in this tournament that every game was a go-home game. “Our goal was to win the Overall, and it’s all we talked about all year,” said Overs.
    CPS showed its nerves in the first quarter against ERA by starting on the wrong end of a 12-0 run. Simpson Anderson would, however, find his touch by hitting on three straight 3-point attempts. The junior finished the season by hitting exactly one hundred 3’s. The Rebels won a tough game over a AAA power by the score of 62-56. 
    Second round action had CPS facing the Class A champions, Tri-County Academy of Flora, MS.  The Rebels proved too powerful for the state champs and won the game 76-43. Anderson again led the way for the Rebels with 21.
    The win placed CPS in its second biggest game in school history. Only one CPS team had ever advanced to this point.  Waiting on CPS was AAA state champs Jackson Preparatory School (Jackson, MS). Jackson Prep entered the contest with a record of 40-1 and were the heavy favorites, playing only 15 miles from their own campus at the Overall Tournament, which was held at Mississippi College in Clinton, MS.
    The CPS faithful showed their support in a major way for the boys, and the team got its first game on a grand stage. Well over 1,000 fans were in attendance to see the two teams. The game was filled with slam dunks and great basketball.
    CPS trailed Jackson Prep by 12 at halftime, but with the hands of fan support and grit the Rebels battled their way back and slowly cut the Prep lead down to only 6 at the end of three quarters. With a little over 4:00 left in the 4th quarter, CPS cut the lead to only two. Prep called a time out to regroup; the golden ball was in sight for the Rebels for the first time in school history. Prep maintained the ball for much of the remainder of the game and went on to hit 8 straight free throws to beat CPS 53-43. Overs was named to the All-Overall Team.
    The Rebels racked up on awards on the way to this point. Mitch Van Asten was named to the All-District team along with Overs, Carroll, and Anderson. Overs and Carroll received senior All Star honors and will  compete this weekend in the MAIS State All-Star Basketball game in Jackson, MS. 
    Gantz said about his players and team, “We have a good thing going. Overs will more than likely sign D-1 soon, and Carroll is highly sought after among D-3 colleges. Anderson is a highly recruited D-1 prospect and he is only a junior; he had scouts from several colleges come to our gym this year.”
    Gantz was also named MAIS All-Star Coach; he will have the honor of coaching Carroll and Overs in one more game.
    The basketball team would like to thank its fans, its amazing headmaster, the CPS cheerleaders and their sponsor, the CPS Board of Directors and CP Athletic Club, and the basketball staff that worked endless hours to achieve the current success the program has enjoyed.

 Senior Alex Overs gets the dunk over a Jackson Prep defender.