E.A. Sports Today

Band on the run

Anniston wins highly entertaining game over hosts in Lincoln Round Robin; Oxford falls in Rebel Classic finals

Wednesday’s scores
Lincoln Round Robin Classic
Anniston 95, Lincoln 89
Sneaky Pete’s Rebel Classic
Championship Game
Vestavia Hills 64, Oxford 46

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

LINCOLN – When a team is as richly talented and up-tempo as this year’s Anniston basketball team there’s always a danger of it getting ahead of themselves.

Basketball is an emotional game and riding the crest of a fast-moving wave of in-game momentum can be an exhilarating experience for both the players and the fans.

PTSKite Carlisle
Hoov 8 38
TCC 25 16
Leed 32 22
Linc 28 32
Avg.23.3 27.0

The best teams understand the limits. When the Bulldogs are going full throttle behind their two most dynamic players, Antonio Kite and Malcolm Carlisle, it can be a high-level thrill ride. But sometimes it can also be a little over-the-top, especially when it goes off the rails.

It hasn’t hurt them yet – they’re 4-0 but the potential is there for man to bite Dawg.

It happened a couple times during Wednesday’s 95-89 win at Lincoln.

The Bulldogs were off and running, seemingly on the verge of running the Golden Bears out of their own gym, then got caught in the emotion of the moment and went from playing to entertaining and suddenly the Golden Bears were back in the game.

“We did the same thing yesterday,” Bulldogs coach Torry Brown said, referring to Tuesday’s win over Leeds. “We got a little separation and before we can get any more separation we do things that we shouldn’t have done that led to the other team getting two or three easy shots or the open 3 and all of a sudden (it’s a tight game).

“Those are things that we can control that right now we’re not doing a really good job of. But the good thing about it is those things are fixable.”

Coaches want their players to have fun and Brown isn’t trying to shackle their enthusiasm by any means. He knows the value of momentum as much as the next guy and players can feel where the flow of the game is taking them and pounce when they sense the moment’s right.

But there’s a fine line between playing and entertaining and it usually doesn’t get seen until after the fact.

Brown doesn’t micro-coach every possession anymore so he accepts the give-and-take that comes with the territory.

“They’re young kids and it’s hard to impress upon them sort of a respect for the game and doing it the right way, playing the right way, having fun with your teammates the right way and things like that,” Brown said. “Because we have a few guys who are really explosive everyone assumes right out of the gate you should really dominate every team that you play. Each game is different.

“We’re one of those teams right now that every at bat we’re trying to hit a home run. Every at bat has got to be a special highlight for them. Everybody wants to hit a home run. Everybody wants to hit a 3-point shot and all of a sudden (the momentum swings). The same things that make you laugh, make you cry. Everything that goes up must come down.”

Carlisle had 32 points in the game and Kite had 28; they’re averaging 27.0 and 23.3 a game, respectively, through the first four games of the year. Kite is averaging 28.3 in his last three gams; he played in the opener three days after completing the football season and acknowledged it was more Carlisle’s game anyway.

Interestingly, Kite was scoreless in the first quarter against the Golden Bears, but that was fine, because Carlisle went for 17 as the teams played to a 22-22 tie. Once Kite started scoring, the Bulldogs started pulling away.

FTsKite Carlisle
Hoov 6-6 5-8
TCC 5-7 2-2
Leed 11-12 5-6
Linc 14-15 6-9

Because of the way the two guards attack the basket and leave defenders in their wake, they get to the free throw line a bunch and finish there as well. They were a combined 20 of 24 from the line against Lincoln. Kite was 14 for 15, hitting his last 14 in a row, and is 25 of 27 over the last two games.

“You don’t want to take away the aggression of your best player,” Brown said. “A guy told me a long time ago would you rather have two good plays or two good players. I’d rather have two good players and we’ll take our chances with those guys. But you’ve got to live with it. You’ve got to take the good with the bad.”

Of course, the Bulldogs are more than Carlisle and Kite. A lot more.

Brown will go to the ends of the earth to tout Mark Toyer as the best defensive player in the state. The 5-9 junior typically guards the opponent’s best perimeter scoring threat, but now he’s bringing offense to the mix.

Toyer showed his scoring chops against the Golden Bears, going for 16 points. He had 13 in the third quarter, hitting three 3-pointers in the first three minutes, opening and closing a 17-4 run that stretched the lead after the Bears closed to within two at the start of the half.

He had scored only 13 points in the Bulldogs’ previous three games combined.

“Everybody already knows I can play defense, I might as well show them the offensive side,” Toyer said. “I hadn’t hit a couple shots in a couple games and tonight I found my shot and I kept shooting. It’s amazing.”

“Toyer is the guy who just makes everything fit,” Brown said. “It was really good to see him hit some shots. He’s been a good offensive player all his life. Last year was his first year, he sort of felt his way through, and this year we’re looking for a lot more from him offensively. Those two guys (Kite an Carlisle) are not going to get their average every night so you’ve got to have other guys.”

The Bulldogs weren’t the only ones with dynamic scorers on the floor. Lincoln’s Brian Garrett led all scorers with 33 points and the Bears got 27 points (and 12 rebounds) from post Tre Hines, an unexpected and welcomed boost going forward consider they’re missing two key players due to COVID. Hines scored 17 in the second half.

“Last year there weren’t enough shots to go around,” Lincoln coach Doug Ward said. “(Hines) is finally catching on that he’s the biggest guy on the floor (6-3, 220) and can do that. I was very pleased to see him do that. He’s an animal when he wants to be it.

“This was a good sign for me because after Monday – first-game jitters and the way we played – coming out and just having that sense about them that we can play with anybody, that made me feel good.”

Lincoln Round Robin Classic
Anniston 95, Lincoln 89
ANNISTON (4-0) –
Mark Toyer 6 0-0 16, Antonio Kite 7 14-15 28, Jacques Thomas 1 0-0 2, Malcolm Carlisle 11 6-9 32, Troy Hall 0 0-0 0, Miciah Myles 6 0-0 12, Tadyn Jones 0 0-0 0, Taishun Hall 0 0-0 0, Jakobe Collins 2 1-4 5. Totals 33 21-28 85.
LINCOLN –Brian Garrett 10 10-10 33, Korry Davis 4 1-2 11, Chris Curry 2 0-0 4, Camare Hampton 3 4-4 11, Isaiah Ashley 0 0-0 0, Siete Garrett 0 1-2 1, JR Proctor 0 0-0 0, JD Davis 1 0-0 2, Tripp Ward 0 0-0 0, Tre Hines 12 3-4 27. Totals 32 19-22 89.

Anniston          22  24 29  20   –  95
Lincoln            22  17 23  27   –  89
3-point goals: Anniston 8 (Toyer 4, Carlisle 4); Lincoln 6 (B. Garrett 3, Davis 2, Hampton). Technical fouls: Kite. Total fouls: Anniston 19, Lincoln 24.

Sneaky Pete’s Rebel Classic
Championship game
Vestavia Hills 64, Oxford 46
Avelon Bush 0 0-0 0, Cordell Chatman 0 2-2 2, Rylan Houck 7 0-0 15, Peyton Watts 0 0-0 0, Mike McGraw 1 0-0 2, Kyler Wright 0 4-4 4, Justn Moore 5 3-3 13, Aaron McFarland 0 2-2 2, Jadarian Jones 2 0-0 5, Zurrell Garrett 0 1-2 1, Jarek Burroughs 0 2-2 2. Totals 15 14-14 46.
VESTAVIA HILLS –Win Miller 11 2-5 25, Jude Cleary 1 0-0 3, Clayton Marek 1 0-0 3, Nate Campbell 0 0-0 0, Charles Hughes 0 0-2 0, Garrett Smith 0 0-0 0, Reese Gunner 3 0-1 7, William Orkus 0 0-0 0, Alexander Armstrong 3 4-6 12, Grant Uldrich 4 0-1 8, Micah Roberson 0 0-0 0, Cole Turner 1 1-2 3, Marshall Newsome 0 3-4 3. Totals 24 10-21 64.

Oxford             9    6   17  14  –  46
Vestavia          18  13 16  17  –  64
3-point goals: Oxford 2 (Houck, Jones); Vestavia 6 (Armstrong 2, Gunner, Marek, Cleary, Miller). Total fouls: Oxford 18, Vestavia 14. Officials: Howell, Estes, Craddock.

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