E.A. Sports Today

Raiders score big early win

Pleasant Valley makes statement with area victory over a Piedmont team transitioning into basketball

Ryan McCoy (center) has Pleasant Valley 2-0 in its area after Friday's win over Piedmont.

Ryan McCoy (center) has Pleasant Valley 2-0 in its area after Friday’s win over Piedmont.

By Jason Katz
For East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Early season success struck the Pleasant Valley basketball program Friday as the Raiders improved to 2-0 in the area with a 54-48 victory over Piedmont.

First-year Raiders coach Ryan McCoy was excited for his team, but very cautious in his idea of where his team is now and where it will be in the future.

“They just need success, and immediately that’s what they got,” McCoy said. “Now, is that what it’s going to be in two weeks? I don’t know, but you’ve got to be pleased with it tonight because they played hard.”

Piedmont was still trying to find its basketball legs. Only about a week removed from winning a state title in football, the Bulldogs played lethargically early in the game and could not quite get over the hump as Pleasant Valley pulled away at the end.

Josh Faucett, Reid Hightower and Josh Preston all had hard fought games on offense and defense for the Raiders, but foul trouble took Faucett out of the game at the end of the fourth. That allowed a very good, but visibly tired Piedmont team to keep the game in reach.

“He’s got to stay in the game,” McCoy said. “The best player on the floor cannot sit out the last 30 seconds of the game. That usually does not work out.”

Fawcett finished with 11 points. Faucett had 10. Darnell Jackson kept the Bulldogs in it with eight of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. Bayley Blanchard was Piedmont’s high scorer with 14 points.

Foul trouble was evident throughout the game. Team fouls climbed into the double digits as free throws dominated the scoreboard and Pleasant Valley took control of the game late with many points from the line.

Hightower came up big for the Raiders late. He scored 11 of his 13 in the fourth quarter, including 6-for-6 shooting at the line. He was 8-for-8 in the game. The Raiders were 11 of 13 in the quarter.

“Defense and free throws won it for us in the fourth,” McCoy said. “Reid has been working hard on his game and his work is starting to pay off. The thing you don’t see is how much better he’s gotten on the defensive end and rebounding the ball.”

Many were stunned with the outcome of the game, but this is obviously a transition period for Piedmont coach Tommy Lewis’ team. All but one player on the roster played football, and it might take a little more time to get set as they battle in a difficult area.

Still, many believe these two teams will battle it out all year as they did today to compete for the area title – as they did Friday.

“We just kept playing and kept playing hard,” McCoy said. “Piedmont is a good team that is just starting their season. Hopefully we can improve and when we go to them after New Year’s give them just as good a game as we did today.”

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