Desoto County Sports

Quistors ground Falcons to move into 6A quarterfinals

Photo: Zahir Gutierrez (4) and Trey Wall (3) defend Columbus’ Jayden Tatum during Saturday’s 83-66 Olive Branch victory in the 6A playoffs. (Bob Bakken/

Olive Branch and Center Hill carry the DeSoto County boys’ basketball banner into the second round of the MHSAA 6A state playoffs.

Olive Branch ran out to a 23-6 lead over Columbus on its way to an 83-66 first round win over the Falcons at Charlie Bibbs Gymnasium Saturday evening. At the same time, Center Hill dispatched Callaway 64-45 to move into the second round of the tournament.  

Both teams will play their state quarterfinal games on Thursday, Feb. 22 at Mississippi Valley State University. Olive Branch will play at 7 p.m. against Vicksburg, an 82-47 winner over Lake Cormorant Saturday afternoon. Center Hill will follow at 8:30 against Ridgeland in the second quarterfinal contest.  Ridgeland advanced with a 70-56 victory over Grenada.  

The key to the Quistors’ 24-3 overall success this season has been accurate shooting and tenacious defense. Those factors again came into play in getting Olive Branch off to the early 25-10 lead after one quarter against a taller Columbus squad.  

“We had a game plan set a certain way that we had to defend them because they had this size advantage on us,” said Olive Branch coach Eric Rombaugh. “We pretty much played them man-to-man, put some pressure and really worked on how we rotated and helped each other on defense.”

While the defense was stifling the Falcons’ offense, the tandem of Trey Wall and Zahir Gutierrez went to work on the offensive court for the Quistors. Wall scored 14 of what would become a 30-point night in the opening quarter and Gutierrez added a trio of three-pointers to account for most of the Quistors’ first-quarter scoring.  

Rombaugh said Wall’s play was critical in how his team started the contest on a strong note.  

“Trey set the tone for us right away,” Rombaugh said. “The guys did a good job of looking for him and then we made some big shots.”

The second quarter followed the first with a double-digit Olive Branch lead, although Columbus outscored the Quistors 17-15 in the quarter behind Mike Hood’s six points in the period. Olive Branch led the game 40-27 at intermission with Wall scoring 16 points.  

In the second half, the double-digit margin remained and the Conquistadors at one time had a 52-34 lead with three minutes left in the quarter.  Wall scored 10 points in the period to lead the Olive Branch offense, which made the end of the third quarter score 62-47 for the Quistors.  The margin at one point would be 22 points for Olive Branch.  

While Wall was shut down in the final quarter, Javion Stephens stepped up his game in the final eight minutes, knocking down 11 of his 13 points in the final quarter to clinch the Olive Branch victory.

Gutierrez finished with 14 points in the victory and Stephens finished with 13. Columbus’ top scorers were Hood with 16 points, Jayden Tatum with 15, and Johnavon Leach with 13.