E.A. Sports Today

Bulldogs take air out of Parker

Bisons’ stall tactics late in game backfire, work in Anniston’s favor

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Schuessler Ware had to think long and hard to remember the last time Anniston scored that few points – on purpose – and won the game. And even then he wasn’t sure he could tell you for sure.

Ware’s Bulldogs and sixth-ranked Parker played one of those games Wednesday night made popular before the invention of the shot clock. Get the lead, get the ball, milk the clock and see who blinks first.

And since there is no shot clock in high school basketball, both teams took great pleasure working the ball around the 3-point waiting to take that singular shot in the closing seconds that hopefully would win the game.

They did it for all the fourth quarter and both overtimes before everybody ran out of time and Anniston eventually came away with a 32-30 victory that only was that low-scoring because of the style the teams chose to play down the stretch as opposed to nobody being able to hit a shot.

“I don’t recall scoring this low to be honest,” Ware said. “I’d have to look back in the books, but I don’t recall the score being that low since I’ve been coaching them.”

Parker started it. The Bison (14-5) began milking the clock with just about six minutes left in regulation holding a 28-25 lead. Several Anniston defenders at the top of the zone looked anxious and frustrated over how or even whether to attack the ploy at first, but after a while they were content to sit inside the arc and just let the clock run.

The visitors probably would’ve kept it the whole quarter, too, or at least forced the Bulldogs to make a move on them late if Eugene Minter hadn’t gotten called for an offensive foul with 2:06 to go.

The Bulldogs (10-6) didn’t waste any time capitalizing with the possession – and they didn’t hold it long – as Tray Croft buried a 3-pointer with 1:55 left to tie the game. It was the only 3-pointer by either team in the game and would be the only points either team would score in the quarter.

“At the time we weren’t doing anything offensively so I figured that we’d just come down and they’d have to foul or something,” Parker coach Reiginald McGary explained. “But they did a good job speed wise. They’ve got great guards. They understand what they’re doing; mine’s got problems.”

The Bulldogs decided two could play at that stalling game and Ware put it in the hands of guards Croft, Marrio Dobbins and Hakeem Ross throughout the end of the fourth quarter and both overtimes. The only shots they had in mind were the ones at the end of periods.

“I’m real patient,” Ware said. “This game is like a game of chess. That’s what I tell the coaches, be patient and we’ll be OK. We were letting them know that everyone’s accountable for what you had to do so you had to be patient. I had no problem with it. I like chess.”

Anniston took only 28 shots in the game.

Amazingly, considering the total time they had to burn, both teams handled the ball without a turnover. Surely one would’ve thought a pass might slip through someone’s hands or kick off a foot out of bounds. Instead, neither team mishandled the ball while they continued to weave through the defense.

“That’s why I say I think we have the best guards in the county,” Bulldogs junior forward Davion Tippins said.

“We put the ball in the best players’ hands, the best dribblers’ hands, that’s all we were doing,” Marrio Dobbins said.

The Bulldogs, coming off an emotional area win over Alexandria the night before, had the ball in their hands at the end of regulation and the first overtime, but they appeared to start their offense too late to get an effective game-winning shot. They started at the end of regulation with about five seconds left and Croft threw up an off-balanced 3-pointer. They got it going a little earlier at the end of the first overtime and Dobbins’ 3-pointer at the buzzer banged off the back iron.

“Coach just told us to be patient; if we didn’t have it don’t rush it,” Croft said.

Parker’s Ernie Medlock missed a layup off the opening tip of the second overtime and Anniston controlled the next 3:30 – with the help of some timely offensive rebounds — to take the lead.

Dobbins broke the tie with the first of two free throws with 41.2 seconds left. He missed the second shot, but DeQuan Ross grabbed the rebound to keep it alive. Dobbins was fouled again with 30.3 seconds left; he missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Hakeem Ross knifed through traffic to rebound and keep it alive so more.

Ross was fouled 27.2 seconds left and he made both ends of the one-and-one to put Anniston up 31-28. Allen Frost finally got the Bison on the board for the first time since midway through the third quarter with a lay-in to make it 31-30.

Croft hit the second of two free throws with 6.3 seconds left to push the lead back to two. The Bison had one last chance, but Joshua Chairs’ pull-up 3-pointer fell short and into Dobbins’ arms.

Croft and Tippins led the Bulldogs with eight points each. Frost led all scorers with 10.

Anniston 32, Parker 30 (2 OTs)

PARKER (14-5) – Joshua Chairs 0 0-0 0, Allen Frost 5 0-0 10, Eugene Minter 0 0-2 0, Tommy Neely 1 0-0 2, Devonte Minter 0 0-0 0, Jamichael King 3 1-2 7, Ernie Medlock 3 0-0 6, Christin Starkey 1 1-2 3, James Radford 1 0-2 2. Totals 14 2-8 30.

ANNISTON (10-6) – Marrio Dobbins 1 1-3 3, Tray Croft 3 1-2 8, Hakeem Ross 1 3-4 5, Davion Tippins 3 2-4 8, DeQuan Ross 2 1-3 5, Quindarious Burton 0 0-0 0, Justin Bagley 0 1-2 1, Emmanuel James 1 0-1 2, Treventa Carter 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 9-19 32.

Parker 8 15 5 0 0 2 — 30
Anniston 7 9 9 3 0 4 — 32

3-point goals: Anniston 1 (Croft). Total fouls: Parker 16, Anniston 9. Officials: Stringer, Robinson, Warren.

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