E.A. Sports Today

Marshall’s plan works

Pleasant Valley senior guard used an aggressive rehab to recover from a mid-week ankle injury that threatened to keep him out of the opener

Marshall Smith (11) listens intently as first-year Pleasant Valley coach Ryan McCoy maps out a play during a timeout in Monday's season opener.

Marshall Smith (11) listens intently as first-year Pleasant Valley coach Ryan McCoy maps out a play during a timeout in Monday’s season opener.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Four days ago the chances of Marshall Smith playing in his senior season opener against rival Ohatchee were by all accounts slim at best.

Thursday afternoon in practice the Pleasant Valley guard landed awkwardly on teammate Nick Smith’s foot sending him crashing to the floor in pain. His right ankle swollen and his Achilles tendon stretched, he figured he was done for at least the first couple games of the season.

But he was determined to get back on the floor. He virtually lived in an ice bucket all weekend and Monday night was out there for the home team. He even planted on that ankle twice on his back-to-back layups late in the fourth quarter that gave the Raiders the lead that sent them to a 36-31 win over Ohatchee.

“I rolled it pretty good,” said Smith, who had never missed a game or a practice to injury before Friday. “I couldn’t walk on it for two days hardly.

“When it happened I was bummed; I was really disappointed. For it to be my senior year and (maybe) not getting to play the opener, it really messed with me. I didn’t like it. I was in a bad mood, pouting, not really paying attention in class and all that.

“But I kept icing it and it wound up feeling right. At the right time it felt good.”

The determination Smith showed to get back on the floor didn’t surprise Raiders coach Ryan McCoy. From the day this summer McCoy arrived from Ragland to take over a program that hadn’t had a lot of success, Smith, he said, may be the “hardest working player” he has.

“Never a gripe, never a fuss; it’s always – always – go with Marshall,” McCoy said. “I bet he called me 20 times on the weekend asking ‘what can I do, what can I do.’ He’s a tough kid.”

Smith never went to a doctor; he worked towards his recovery on his own. He scored eight points in the game, with six of them among the biggest in the final three minutes of the game.

With Ohatchee leading 29-28 and Josh Preston at the scoring table ready to spell him, Smith drove hard to give the Raiders the lead. He coverted another Ohatchee turnover into a layup a few seconds later giving PV a three-point lead.

Austin Tucker cut Ohatchee’s deficit to one by converting a one-and-one with 2:27 to play, then Smith added two free throws to keep the Indians at bay.

Tucker led Ohatchee with 10 points. Hightower had a team-high 10 for Pleasant Valley.

The key to the Raiders’ win was their defense. They held the Indians to a mere 11 points in the second half – one field goal in the third quarter — after Ohatchee grabbed a 20-12 halftime lead. PV scored 17 points in the fourth quarter.

“Tonight the defense paid off a boatload,” said Josh Faucett, whose defense and ball-handling skills played a key role down the stretch.

“The bottom line is you’ve gotta win and they needed that,” McCoy said. “The more they work, the harder they work, the more they’re going to see it.”

Pleasant Valley 36, Ohatchee 31

OHATCHEE (0-1) – Ben Glass 1 1-1 4, Kevin Williamson 0 0-0 0, Micah Lee 3 1-2 7, John Noel 0 0-0 0, Bryant Dunaway 0 0-0 0, Brennan Wink 0 0-0 0, Austin Tucker 3 3-4 10, Blaine Cole 0 0-0 0, Brian Jennings 3 2-5 8, Tristan Woodall 1 0-0 2, Sean Barrett 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 7-12 31.

PLEASANT VALLEY (1-0) – Josh Preston 0 1-2 1, Dakota James 0 0-3 0, Caden Turner 0 2-2 2, Britton Proper 1 0-0 3, Marshall Smith 3 2-2 8, Josh Faucett 1 1-7 3, Reid Hightower 4 0-2 10, Jordan Landers 1 0-0 2, Nick Robbins 2 1-2 5, Jordan Lambert 0 0-0 0, Cantor Knight 0 0-0 0, Chase Craven 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 7-20 36.

Ohatchee 9 11 5 6 — 31
Pleasant Valley 5 7 7 17 — 36

3-point goals: Ohatchee 2 (Glass, Tucker); Pleasant Valley 3 (Proper, Hightower 2). Total fouls: Ohatchee 20; Pleasant Valley 14. Officials: Calkins, Oliver, Strott.

Pleasant Valley's Josh Faucett (13) steps in to impede the progress of Ohatchee's Micah Lee (10). The Raiders' second-half defense keyed their season-opening victory. (Photo by Krista Walker)

Pleasant Valley’s Josh Faucett (13) steps in to impede the progress of Ohatchee’s Micah Lee (10). The Raiders’ second-half defense keyed their season-opening victory. (Photo by Krista Walker)

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