E.A. Sports Today

Bearcats come up short

Young Weaver team learns valuable life lessons on tournament trip into Georgia

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

TALLAPOOSA, Ga. – The Weaver basketball team got everything it wanted out of its trip to the Hilburn-Patterson Haralson County Holiday Classic except a championship.

The Bearcats lived, laughed, lounged and learned together what it takes to play high-end competition, but came up short in the title game, falling to once-beaten Rockmart 64-54 Tuesday in the Haralson County High School gym.

“We got a lot out of this,” Weaver coach Daryl Hamby said. “I wanted them to spend the night, make them understand you have to live right and sleep right. It ain’t all about fun and games because to play against this talent you’ve got to know how to prepare yourself to win. We just weren’t ready for that.

“This was a good lesson. We got what we wanted out of this tournament.”

Delo Forbes and Paul Hubbard led the Bearcats in the championship game with 23 and 12 points, respectively, and both made the All-Tournament team. Forbes was 13 of 17 from the free-throw line.

Early on it looked as if the demands of the trip finally caught up to the Bearcats. A lazy approach to ball security at the start led to eight straight possessions without scoring and 10 without a field goal while Rockmart opened a 22-9 lead.

Hubbard’s 3-pointer with 47 seconds left in the quarter ended the drought and started the Bearcats on a rally that brought them back within two with the ball. They rallied several times in the game, but could never draw even.

A couple 3-pointers pushed Rockmart’s margin back to eight and Weaver never got closer than three again. The Bearcats cut a 15-point deficit to five by the end of the third quarter before their legs gave out and the Yellow Jackets pulled away for good.

“We were playing hard every play, but they were just shooting the ball (so well),” Delo Forbes said. “I think we weren’t mentally ready (early) so when they went up our team was kind of scared, but then we stepped it up.”

Rockmart hit 11 3-pointers in the game and they came in bunches. Four players hit multiple 3s, with leading scorer and all-tournament team pick Drake Benefield hitting four in a 19-point game. Jaylin Smith added 12 points and was named tournament MVP.

“What we’ve got to learn how to do is close,” Hamby said. “We still haven’t gotten to that point yet. That comes with experience and understanding and maturity.”

All elements spending time on the road together will bring.

(Cover photo: Weaver’s Paul Hubbard (5) and Delo Forbes made the Hilburn-Patterson Invitational all-tournament team.)

Rockmart 64, Weaver 54

ROCKMART (11-1) – Devon Philpot 2 0-0 4, Jaylin Smith 4 4-5 12, Kolby Owens 1 2-2 5, Fred Liggons 2 0-0 6, Drake Benefield 6 3-5 19, Maurice Smith 0 0-2 0, Bailey Cooper 3 0-0 8, Dilain McClain 2 0-0 6, J.C. Lovelace 2 0-0 4. Totals 22 9-14 64.

WEAVER – Delo Forbes 4 13-17 23, Maurice Goodman 0 0-0 0, Craig Copeland 1 0-0 3, Paul Hubbard 4 1-2 12, Elliott 3 2-4 8, Camron Lynch 1 6-6 8. Totals 13 22-29 54.

Rockmart 22 12 17 13 — 64
Weaver 12 16 18 8 — 54

3-point goals: Rockmart 11 (Owens, Liggons 2, Benefield 4, Cooper 2, McClain 2); Weaver 5 (Forbes 2, Copeland, Hubbard 2). Total fouls: Rockmart 22, Weaver 13. Technical fouls: Benefield, Moore. Fouled out: Hubbard.

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