E.A. Sports Today

Bouncing back

Saks’ Williams hits game’s biggest shots after returning from scary collision

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Quen Williams was lying on his back under the basket at the far end of the court, his right leg grotesquely flared behind him. Suddenly everything in Saks’ wild, wild Wildcats World froze, and it had nothing to do with the rapidly falling temperatures outside the building.

Just a few seconds earlier the guard came flying down the lane in pursuit of a rebound when all of a sudden his train ran out of track. Clay Central’s J.T. Burns had gotten underneath him and sent him crashing to the floor in an ugly heap.

Considering the player’s importance to the Wildcats’ basketball fortunes the whole gym held its collective breath. Williams, meanwhile, could think of only one thing as trainers rushed to his side.

“I thought my career was over with,” he said in a side office after the game.

Fortunately for Williams, the Wildcats and their hopes for a deep run in the state tournament, the incident looked a lot worse than it became. Williams returned to the game in the second half and serendipitously hit the two biggest shots in helping the Wildcats win 60-41.

“It was scary,” Williams said. “I was just thanking God; He healed me, made me able to play the rest of the game.”

The Wildcats (13-2) were down six went Williams crashed to the floor. Testing behind the team area revealed no damage and the player returned to the bench as the battle waged, but he sat the rest of the half. He walked with his teammates into halftime with only a barely noticeable limp.

“You don’t want to see a kid get hurt, it doesn’t really matter who it is,” Saks coach Jonathan Miller said. “It looked scary, but I think he’s going to be OK. That’s the good thing.”

Determined not to have the injury stop him from playing “my game,” he returned to the floor in the third quarter and, as he would have before the collision, hit the two biggest shots of the game.

On successive possessions two minutes into the second half, he sweetly drained a long 3-pointer to tie the game and a minute later swished another to give the Wildcats the lead for good. It touched off an 11-0 flurry that took them from 24-21 down to 32-24 ahead.

“You want to see him get in the flow of things and knock down a couple shots and trust that he’s OK,” Miller said. “So I thought that was big for his confidence, to get out there and run around some more after he got injured.”

Williams didn’t hit another jumper after making his two big 3s, but at least he was available to take them. Shortly after Williams hit the second 3, Makel Taylor took a finger in the right eye and was done for the day.

Taylor did return to the bench, but spent the rest of the game holding an ice bag to the side of his face. Miller said the forward still had blurry vision after the game.

“He’s probably scared right now more than anything, too,” Miller said. “We hope he’s OK. We’ll just have to get him checked out and see.”

Losing either player for an extended period would have been harmful to the Wildcats. Williams is a lethal outside shooter who can drop a barrage of 3-pointers every game. Taylor gives them a threat busting it from the outside or flying high down the lane.

The injuries came in a game some 15 hours after the fourth-ranked Wildcats put away No. 6 White Plains to take the upper hand in their area. The matinee was staged to get a game in front of the students while school was in session.

With all that going on, the Wildcats were slow out of the gate, falling behind 10-0.

“We didn’t have much luck today,” Miller said. “Coming off last night, a big area win, and playing a tough physical team the next day, is probably not the best recipe for success. If we do it in the future we’ll try to do it earlier or away from area games.

“The turnaround is tough for our guys. I knew we’d start slow and I thought once we settled in, we’d be OK. We turned it on after the first quarter and played a lot better.”

(Cover photo: Saks shooters Quen Williams (14) and Darion Coleman return to the floor after a time out.)

BOYS BOX SCORE

Saks 60, Central-Clay County 41

CENTRAL-CLAY CO. (5-8) — Davyn Flenard 1 1-1 3, Spencer Loveless 1 0-0 2, Jaylon Lyles 2 1-1 5, J.T. Burns 0 1-2 1, D.J. Ford 3 0-2 6, JoJo Staples 6 2-2 14, Dustin Hardy 3 0-2 6, Dawson Taylor 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 5-10 41.

SAKS (13-2) — Makel Taylor 0 0-2 0, Darion Coleman 4 2-2 12, Devin Harris 4 0-1 9, Quen Smith 0 0-0 0, Jaylen Britt 5 1-2 13, Davieunte Booker 0 0-0 0, Monty Young 3 0-0 6, Quen Williams 3 2-2 10, Quay McCord 0 3-4 3, Demetrius Powell 3 0-0 7. Totals 22 8-13 60.

Central-Clay Co. 14 8 10 9 — 41
Saks 8 13 20 19 — 60

3-point goals: Central 2 (Staples 2); Saks 8 (Coleman 2, Harris, Britt 2, Williams 2, Powell). Total fouls: Central 15, Saks 11.

GIRLS BOX SCORE

Saks 63, Central-Clay County 31

CENTRAL-CLAY CO. (3-10) – Anitra Hunter 0 2-2 2, Anastasia Marbury 1 0-0 2, Elizabeth Wood 1 0-0 2, Lindsey Andrews 1 0-0 2, Alisha McNeil 1 0-0 2, Clare Daughtery 1 0-0 2, Charle Thomas 1 1-2 3, Kenda Gibbons 0 0-0 0, Kiera Ford 1 0-0 3, Essence Cunningham 2 0-0 5, Brenda Garcia 0 0-0 0, Cassie Ragland 3 2-6 8. Totals 12 5-10 31.

SAKS (7-4) – Talisha Christian 1 0-2 2, Tayler Teague 1 0-2 2, Aliyah Simmons 4 1-2 9, Jordan Briskey 2 0-0 4, Ashley Chapa 0 0-0 0, Maiya Northard 1 4-6 6, Parris Glover 0 1-2 1, Miracle Dennard 4 1-2 10, Teetee Jenkins 7 0-0 14, Bre Browning 4 0-2 8, Daja Johnson 3 0-0 7. Totals 27 7-18 63.

Central-Clay Co. 2 11 12 6 — 31
Saks 18 22 11 12 — 63

3-point goals: Central 2 (Ford, Cunningham); Saks 2 (Dennard, Johnson). Total fouls: Central 16, Saks 8.



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