E.A. Sports Today

Ready or not, it’s time to play

Saks gets the best of Wellborn in a season-opener pitting two teams trying to find their way

Wellborn’s Lewis Patterson (3) moves in challenge the shot of Saks’ Zay Elston Thursday night. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

With only three days of practice – one really, considering the first two were tryouts – Saks coach Jonathan Miller didn’t really know what to expect when he sent his basketball team on the floor for the first time in competition Thursday night.

The Wildcats were going to be young and they weren’t going to have a lot of stuff in yet – in a test as important as an area game, no less – but it helped they were facing a team equally trying to find its way.

Saks’ natural athleticism won out in the end, sending them to a 66-30 win over Wellborn.

The Wildcats got out to such a late start because Miller and most of the players on his roster were involved in a deep run in the football playoffs. It was only after the football team was eliminated in last week’s third round that they could get together for any kind of basketball work.

“With this being such an inexperienced team it was a little different going into the game not knowing what to expect,” Miller said. “I thought we’d be a little sloppy, which is to be expected.

“I’ve done this before with a more experienced team. We made a deep run in the playoffs and we played I think on a Friday of the next week – but that was with an experienced team. I just took a chance and felt like if we get out there and play it’ll be just as good as a practice and do it in a game-like situation.”

Ten of Saks’ 12 players who got in the game scored. Four scored in double figures, led by Daveon Dukes’ game-high 16. Zay Elston had 12 and Tyler Smith, their lone returning starter, and Jordan Cosper each had 10. Their four returning players – Smith, Dukes, Elston and Marreo Thomas – combined for 41 points.

The Wildcats took control of the game with a 27-1 run after the Panthers cut an early deficit to 13-10 late in the first quarter.

“We’ve got a long way to go; I saw that in practice this week,” Miller said. “We’ve not a very good team right now, but that’s to be expected. It’s going to take some time for us, and the good thing for us is we’ve got the entire roster returning except for one guy. We’ve got a long time to grow.

“I emphasized before the game and in practice that it’s not going to be pretty right now, but let’s go out and play hard and play aggressive and just give me a lot of effort right now.”

The Panthers, looking for some early success after not winning a game last season, had two scorers in double figures. Khavion Wesley, a backup point guard last year, and Lewis Patterson each scored 10.

“They did try hard,” Panthers coach Jordan Angle said. “But we’ve got a long way to go.”

Saks 66, Wellborn 30
WELLBORN (0-1) –
Khavion Wesley 3 3-6 10, Justin Berry 1 0-0 3, Lewis Patterson 4 1-1 10, Max Searcy 0 0-0 0, Glenn Oliver 0 0-0 0, Tae Traylor 2 0-0 4, Rob Broom 1 0-0 3, Logan Grubbs 0 0-0 0, Austin Gamble 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 4-7 30.
SAKS (1-0) – Tyler Smith 5 0-1 10, Zaejuan Johnson 1 0-1 2, Daveon Dukes 7 1-2 16, Leonta Jones 0 0-0 0, Zay Elston 6 0-4 12, Benji Wilson 1 0-0 2, Kyle Goedde 0 0-4 0, Marreo Thomas 2 1-2 5, Jordan Cosper 3 4-5 10, Conor Martin 1 0-2 2, Kimori Wilson-Hall 2 0-0 6, Miles McLaughlin 0 1-2 1. Totals 28 7-23 66.
Wellborn 10 11 4 5 – 30
Saks 17 25 21 3 – 66

3-point goals: Wellborn 4 (Wesley, Berry, Patterson, Broom); Saks 3 (Dukes, Wilson-Hall 2). Fouled out: Patterson. Total fouls: Wellborn 17, Saks 15. Officials: Hale, Campbell, Caldwell.

Saks’ Daveon Dukes (4) looks to find an open man and avoid being trapped after having his route on the baseline cut off by Wellborn’s Tae Traylor. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

To see more pictures from the game, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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