E.A. Sports Today

Saks shakes slow start

Wildcats look tight early, but loosen up as game extends, pull away from Cleburne County to reach area title game

Saks' Jaylen Britt works his way through traffic to get to the basket. On the cover, Demetrius Powell dribbles past two Cleburne County defenders. (Photos by Stephen Miller)

Saks’ Jaylen Britt works his way through traffic to get to the basket. On the cover, Demetrius Powell dribbles past two Cleburne County defenders. (Photos by Stephen Miller)

By Jason Katz
For East Alabama Sports Today

Saks has tended to start their big games off slowly this season. Something just does not seem to click during the opening minutes of the game, but when it does or some weight is lifted off their shoulders the Wildcats tend to play much better as the game goes on.

It was no different Tuesday as the Wildcats started a bit slow in what was their biggest game of the year, but they eventually snapped out of it and cruised to a 54-39 victory over Cleburne County in the Class 4A Area 11 tournament.

“I thought we were tight early on and could not get good spacing,” Saks coach Jonathan Miller said. “But as the game went on we loosened up and especially in the third quarter we had a little run and were able to carry that lead out and get the win.”

Saks missed a lot of shots early in the game, while Cleburne County attacked the rim from all angles and for a time was out pacing the Wildcats at their own game.

Then, behind the catalyst of senior Jaylen Britt the team was able to rattle off 18 points in the third quarter and hold the Tigers to seven.

“I like having that role of being a leader on this team,” Britt said. “Last year it was not quite like that, but as this year has progressed I have enjoyed my role and have been glad to get my teammates to play at a higher level and help the team win games.”
Britt led Saks’ offense with 21 points while another senior, Demetrius Powell, had 10 points with seven rebounds. Big man Demario Burnett was stellar in the paint as he had nine rebounds and six points.

“It is really important for us to feed the ball inside and get those big rebounds,” Miller said. “To keep up this success we will have to play like this for the entire game and play to the best of our skill level to make a run. Defense is key and so is spacing on offense. We just have to execute.”

Cleburne County hung around early, but once Saks picked up the pace it could not hang on.

The Tigers were led in scoring by Jeremiah Blake’s 14 points. John Robinson and Stashun Henson had seven points apiece with four and six rebounds, respectively.

Saks will once again face White Plains in the area championship game Thursday and it will need to bring its ‘A’ game.

“Regardless of who we play in the next game we have to start fast,” Britt said. “We know what we have to do, it is just a matter of execution on our part and together we can make it work.”


Saks 54, Cleburne County 39

CLEBURNE COUNTY – Noah Ware 0 3-4 3, Macain Carlile 0 0-0 0, Colton Austin 0 0-0 0, Avery Gentry 0 0-0 0, Jeremiah Blake 5 2-5 14, Brock Swafford 1 0-2 2, Jacob Lee 0 4-6 4, Stashun Henson 3 1-4 7, Taylor Rice 1 0-0 2, John Robinson 3 1-2 7. Totals 13 11-23 39.

SAKS – Jaylen Wynn 0 0-0 0, Demetrius Powell 3 4-5 10, Quay McCord 0 0-0 0, Quin Smith 1 2-2 4, Jaylen Britt 9 1-2 21, Davieuntae Booker 0 0-0 0, Alfonza Ward 0 2-5 2, DeMario Burnett 3 0-0 6, Tre Hughley 2 0-0 4, Darien Briskey 2 1-1 5, Landun Peters 1 0-0 2, Malik Burns 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 10-15 54.

Cleburne Co. 11 11 7 10 — 39
Saks 13 17 18 6 — 54

3-point goals: Cleburne Co. 2 (Blake 2); Saks 2 (Britt 2). Total fouls: Cleburne Co. 16, Saks 18. Officials: Williams, Battles, Teel.

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