E.A. Sports Today

Valley Cubs come up short

Alexandria can’t find way to finish in closest game of season

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – One of the pieces missing in the development of this year’s Alexandria basketball team has been a tight end-game situation. Coach Jason Johnson had been hoping to have one before too long into the season, even though it does bring a risky proposition.

Now that a real close one has arrived, the Valley Cubs know the things they must work on going forward.

The Cubs were locked in a tight game with Plainville throughout Saturday’s third game in the Holiday Hoops Challenge at Jacksonville State. In the end, their lack of an end-game experience hurt as they fell to the 3A Grizzlies 62-58.

The Cubs (5-2) hadn’t had a game closer than seven all season and all five of their victories had been by at least 16 points. Their last three wins have been by 37, 21 and 29.

“When you’re way ahead it’s always easier to shoot; less stress, even at the free throw line,” Johnson said. “There were some stressful situations we didn’t accomplish today, but that’s why you play these games. I’d rather be experiencing this at this time of the year than January or February.”

Riley Shaw’s 3-pointer with 2:02 to play put Alexandria ahead 58-53, but the dagger for the Cubs came when Cody Willingham stuck 3s on the next back-to-back possessions to give the Grizzlies the lead for good.

Shaw’s 3 was the last field goal Alexandria would make; it had only two in the quarter. After falling behind, the Cubs missed three layups. Austin Willigham hit two free throws with 11.8 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.

Alexandria’s Dakota Kelley led all scorers with 16 points, but had only one in the second half. Alton Davis had 13 points and seven rebounds.

“I thought we held up pretty good,” Kelley said. “We’ve got to get better on defense, work hard at practice, work hard on our offense more, and make better decisions. We had a few bad decisions there at the end. This game will help us a lot to get better.”

Cover photo: Alexandria coach Jason Johnson gives his team instructions during a time out Saturday.

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