E.A. Sports Today

Another close one

White Plains falls to Wayne County (Ky.) as late 3-pointer misses the mark; Wildcats have played teams from 5 different states this year

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
 
FREEPORT, Fla. –
Chris Randall has always had a bit of an adventurous streak.
 
The White Plains basketball coach could easily create a schedule within the confines of Alabama every year and find some pretty stout competition, but what fun would that be?
 
So far this year the Wildcats have played in three different states against teams from five different states.
 
The latest out-of-state experience came Monday when the Wildcats lost to Wayne County (Ky.) 34-32 in what proved to be their final game in the Hilton Sandestin Beach Blowout.
 
In addition to their familiar foes in Alabama, the Wildcats this year have played teams from Tennessee and North Carolina in Chattanooga, and from Louisiana, Alabama and Kentucky here. They would have added State No. 6, playing a team from Florida, had they won Monday.
 
“You play so many different styles,” Randall said. “This was three different teams with different players and different type philosophies. The team from Louisiana ran a lot and played a lot of zone. Helena played a match-up zone we don’t see that much. Today, they played straight tough in-your-face man.
 
“I talked to Coach (Schuessler) Ware a lot and he used to tell me we don’t care what our record is we want to be good at the end of the year, and I’m like that. I’m not concerned what the record is, I want to be exposed to a lot of different things and I want everything to be hard for us and hopefully that pays off at the end of the year.”

The players seem to enjoy it. Both Coleman Messer and Jaden Chatman said they look forward to this trip every year for the good competition and team bonding it brings.

All five games have been dogfights. In this one, the Wildcats led 8-4 after the first quarter, but Wayne County closed to within two at halftime. The Cardinals pushed ahead 28-23 after three quarters and were up nine at one point, but the Wildcats rallied to get back to 34-32 with 21 seconds left and had the ball.
  
They worked the ball around for the last shot and had the ball knocked away twice, but in the end Brody Baker’s 3-pointer from the top of the key missed the mark. 
 
“We weren’t intentionally going for the 3,” Randall said. “We tried to get the two. We tried to attack it. They knocked it out of bounds twice. We tried to get to the bucket. We drove it, kicked it out, had a really good look. It didn’t go our way this time.
 
“I’m more proud of Brody. I couldn’t care less if he makes or miss – of course, you’d liked for him to have made it – but having the guts to take it means more to me than make or miss. To have the guts to be able to take that shot tells me a whole lot about him. He has the confidence to take that shot and I know he’ll make it the next time.”

Baker led the Wildcats with 12 points. Wayne County’s Thomas Spencer led all scorers with 16.
 
Look for the travelogue to continue next year. The Wildcats have already committed to returning here next year.
 
“I told them we’ll go wherever you want to,” Randall said. “I’m an old man, it’s your team, your trip, your season. I’ll take you anywhere as long as you’re behaving.
 
“I’d take this group anywhere; they’re so well behaved. I was watching us warm up before the game and told Brad (Yarbrough) all 11 of these guys genuinely like each other. They get along so good. They’re so much fun to to coach and be with. That goes a long way.”

Alas, there are no more out-of-state opponents this year. Everything on the schedule is in familiar territory the rest of the season.

“It’ll be Sweet Home Alabama from here on out,” Randall said.

Of course, he certainly wouldn’t mind a trip to Birmingham during the last week of the season.
 
Hilton Sandestin Beach Blowout
Wayne County (Ky.) 34, White Plains 32
WAYNE COUNTY –
Kameron Gehring 3 0-1 6, Mason Burchett 1 1-2 3, Thomas Spencer 6 3-4 16, Reese Sexton 1 1-4 4, Bryson Tucker 0 2-2 2, Chandler Humble 1 1-1 3. Totals 12 8-14 34.
WHITE PLAINS – Coleman Messer 1 0-0 2, Quin Wilson 0 0-0 0, Jaden Chatman 3 0-0 8, Jacob Wheeler 2 0-0 4, Brody Baker 5 2-2 12, Carson Wright 0 1-2 1, Walker O’Steen 1 0-0 3, Kahlil Williams 0 2-2 2, Grarett Wilson 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 5-6 32.
 
Wayne County            4  13  11 6  –  34
White Plains               8  11  4   9  –  32
3-point goals: Wayne County 2 (Spencer, Sexton); White Plains 3 (Chatman 2, O’Steen). Total fouls: Wayne County 9, White Plains 12.



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