Munford head coach Butch Hopkins knows he has a team that is more successful when it plays strong defense, slows things down and limits offensive rebounds.
Those three things were on display Friday night at home against Jackson Central Merry.
The Cougars held JCM to 18 second-half points, took care of business on the boards and resisted the urge to get into a track meet on the way to a 54-42 win, completing a season sweep of the Cougars.
“One thing we did do well tonight was defensive rebounding,” Hopkins said. “We didn't give up very many second shots.”
That work on the boards helped Munford turn a two-point halftime lead into a 44-27 advantage midway through the third quarter.
JCM made three straight 3-pointers late in the quarter to pull within 12 points, but Munford stayed the course and never led by less than 10 points the rest of the way.
Kylon Hall, who led all scorers with 16 points, threw down a breakaway dunk with 2:37 left in the game to push the lead 12 and JCM never threatened again.
A 16-3 Munford run to start the third quarter proved to be the difference.
Munford's Andrea' Bell scored six of his eight points during the spurt.
With 2:44 left in the third quarter, JCM's coach picked up a technical foul after a foul was called on one of his players.
Reggie Holmes hit three of four free throws and Bell added a bucket in the paint moments later to push Munford's lead to 17.
Juane Tolton scored 14 points for Munford, David Hunter added eight and Holmes finished with seven.
The starting five of Bell, Holmes, Hunter, Hall and Tolton scored all 54 of Munford's points.
Through Munford (10-5 overall, 1-0 District 13-AAA) won handily, Hopkins felt like the game should not have been as close as it was.
“We get up 12 or 13, then make two or three bad decisions,” Hopkins said. “But we have gone from six or seven (bad decisions) down to two or three. We've just need to eliminate the three.”
Munford won two of three games in the Gibson County Christmas Tournament over the holiday break.
The team's defense and deliberate style were on full display.
After a 44-25 loss to Hall (Ark.), Munford beat Murfreesboro Heritage (Tenn.) 28-21 and Crockett County 49-39.
Munford's defense gave up an average of 34.6 points a game during the tournament.
“We're not going to be a high-scoring team,” Hopkins said. “We've got to use our size inside and play good team offense and defense. We've got to work inside out, not outside in.”