In the district-opener for both teams, the Melissa Cardinals knocked off Princeton’s Panthers, 72-70, in a grand battle at Princeton High School. A desperate heave from the Panthers at the buzzer from near mid-court missed the mark, preserving Melissa’s victory.

The Cardinals rallied from a 43-32 halftime deficit to dominate the third quarter, 24-13.

“Tre Homer was a huge force for us in the second half,” Melissa head coach Eric Benton said. “He did a great job for us defensively and made some big plays around the rim. Junior Castleberry came up huge, defensively, for us in the last few minutes, too.”

Homer, with 19 points, led all Cardinal scorers, and sophomore Matt Holloway and freshman Brendon Lewis each chipped in 15. Princeton’s Daeshon Jones rolled to a game-high 25 points in the loss.

— Rick Atkinson

Cards fall at Paris in high-scoring affair

The Paris Wildcats topped Melissa’s Cardinals, 96-72, in non-district basketball action on Monday, Jan. 9, at Paris. The Wildcats were led by Josh Robinson, who blew up for 34 points, and Jalen Pipkins, who added 30. Paris led, 48-29, at halftime.

Sophomore Junior Castleberry collected a team-high 14 points for the Cardinals (10-9), with junior Tre Homer, freshman Kaedric Cobbs and junior Cameron Withers all reaching double-digit totals as well. Freshman Brendon Lewis led Melissa with five assists and senior Taner Bigbee’s four-rebound tally was tops among Cardinal players.