E.A. Sports Today

Survive and advance

Literally, that’s what Alexandria did, surviving a ‘rough night for us’ to hold off Saks for a spot in county tournament semifinals

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – The Alexandria players were leaving the floor after finally playing in the Calhoun County Basketball Tournament Wednesday night and they knew what was coming when they got to the locker room.

D’Anthony Walton finishes off a fast break with a dunk. He scored 17 points in the game. (Photo by Greg Warren)

The fourth-seeded Valley Cubs, the last team to play in this year’s tournament, survived into the semifinals by beating Saks 52-43 but they didn’t look like a top seed doing it.

“He’s definitely going to get on us,” senior post Julian Wright said of coach Jason Johnson. “We should’ve beaten them by way more. We came out here and didn’t perform like we should have.

“It’s always good to make it to the next round in county, but we’ve still got to clean a lot of things up before we play a better team than that.”

The Cubs had a nice lead in the first half, but a bad closing stretch cut the margin to 11 at the break. The Wildcats brought that momentum back with them into the second half and they got it within four with 2:07 left in the third quarter.

That was as close as they got.

The win sends Alexandria (9-1) to face top-seeded Jacksonville in Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal. All four top seeds in the boys bracket made it to the semifinals. Jacksonville handed the Cubs their only loss of the season in the season opener.

“I don’t think it should’ve been that close,” Cubs leading scorer D’Anthony Walton said. “It was just a rough night for us tonight. There ain’t no excuses playing like that. We can’t play like that next game or we’re going to get beat a lot.”

Johnson was at a loss to explain the way his team played in the first game of what the Cubs hope is a week-long exercise in proving they should’ve been seeded a lot higher than fourth.

It could have been they hadn’t played since Friday. It could have been as the No. 4 seed they had to wait all the way to Wednesday to finally play; if that’s the case, he’d much rather have been the 5-seed to at least get a game under their belt. Don’t discount Saks, either.

In any event, he agreed they couldn’t play that way Thursday and expect to beat Jacksonville, whether the Golden Eagles have 6-9 Cade Phillips available or not. Phillips missed Jacksonville’s tournament opener with a foot injury and his availability for Thursday remains uncertain.

“We got our bad game out and hopefully we’ll come out and play a lot better, with a lot more intensity and make better plays and make better decisions,” Johnson said. “We may come back out here tomorrow night and play just like this game again, if we do, it’s not going to be pretty.”

Alexandria 52, Saks 43
Braelan Robinson 2 0-0 4, Malik Carlisle 1 0-0 2, Shon Elston 0 3-6 3, Sean Parnell 5 1-2 11, Jalen McCants 5 0-0 10, Christian Smith 1 0-0 2, Rickey Garrett 1 0-0 2, Anthony Bothwell 0 0-0 0, Gavin Doss 4 0-0 9. Totals 19 4-8 43.
ALEXANDRIA – Javais McGhee 2 3-5 7, D’Anthony Walton 6 4-6 17, Collin Taylor 3 4-4 11, Evan Snow 0 0-0 0, Kory Cargal 3 1-2 7, Julian Wright 4 2-2 10. Totals 18 14-19 52.
Saks                   9    13    12     9    –   43
Alexandria       17    15    12     8    –   52
3-point goals: Saks 1 (Doss); Alexandria 2 (Walton, Taylor). Total fouls: Saks 14, Alexandria 8. Officials: Madsen, Holsten, Pitts.

Alexandria’s Julian Wright shoots over the challenge of Saks’ Anthony Bothwell (15) during the second half of their county tournament game Wednesday night. On the cover, Collin Taylor (3) flies through Saks’ Braelan Robinson to battle Sean Parnell for a loose ball. (Photos by Greg Warren)

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