Marianna and Malone face off on the court

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Mark Skinner | TIMES - Malone’s Kalen Wilson looks for a pass during Thursday’s game against Marianna.

Year after year, you can be assured of few things consistently taking place but a packed house at the Marianna Malone game and the Malone Marianna game are two constants in Jackson County. Malone has always been the smaller school but that has never figured into the win-loss column with Malone keeping their winning reputation alive at every level, including over the larger and higher classed Bulldogs. A drive by Marianna High School left no doubt it was a highly contested ballgame with zero parking to be found 90 minutes before the opening tipoff of the varsity game. Last Thursday night, the cards went in favor of the Bulldogs with a 77-67 win.
It was a classic Tiger/Bulldog matchup with both teams competing until the very last second ticked off the clock. Both offenses were in high gear for the first quarter with Marianna edging by 22-20 over the visitors. Tavis Groomes led the Bulldogs with eight points, with Ny’Keem Gainer and Ahmaad Johnson both adding five points each. For the Tigers, it was Ocasio Murff with nine points, followed by Spencer Floyd and Anario Ware with four points each.
The second quarter produced only 22 points of offense with 13 of those for Marianna and nine for Malone, giving the Bulldogs a 35-29 lead midway through the game. Jarrod Southwell led his team with four points while the Bulldogs were led by Ahmaad Johnson with six points. Tavis Groomes was solid from the charity stripe, going four-for-four.
Both teams took the court with offense on their game plan in the third quarter. Marianna garnished 27 points to Malone’s 17 points. Ocasio Murff posted eight points to lead the Tigers while Ny’Keem Gainer put up 10 points, with Tavis Groomes right on his heels with nine points. With one quarter left in the game, Marianna had a 62-46 lead.
The Tigers went to work with the opening play of the fourth quarter with Spencer Floyd downing a three and Ocasio Murff making a bucket. The Tigers won the fourth quarter 21-15 but their rally fell short of a comeback win. Floyd led the Tigers in the fourth with eight points, followed by Ocasio Murff with six points, including his going four-for-four from the line. Marianna was led by Ny’Keem Gainer with eight points and Tavis Groomes with five.
On the night, Ocasio Murff had a banner night with 25 points to lead his team, followed by Spencer Floyd with 14 points. Jarrod Southwell and Amario Ware both posted nine points each. The Bulldogs were led by Tavis Groomes with 26 points, with Ny’Keem Gainer right behind him with 24 points. In double digits was Ahmaad Johnson with 13 points, followed by Josh Wilson with eight points.

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