E.A. Sports Today

Defense doesn’t rest

Friday basketball: White Plains sweeps Weaver, Faith boys return to a three-headed monster on offense; this story will be updated

Cedar Bluff 59, Cleburne County 51
Collinsville 76, Gaylesville 39
Faith Christian 78, Ragland 51
Glencoe 77, West End 29
Hokes Bluff 54, Southside 34
Munford 51, Gaston 50 (OT)
Valley Head 88, Jacksonville Christian 80
White Plains 53, Weaver 44

By Al Muskwitz
East Alabama Sports Today

When a basketball team lives and dies by its shooting and they’re hitting, they’re fun to watch. When they’re not hitting, however, they’ve got to find something else to keep them in the game.

White Plains is definitely a team that rides its shooting. The Wildcats were sharp early Friday night against Weaver, they were making baskets in transition and coach Chris Randall admitted “it was fun to watch.” They opened a 20-point lead.

They stopped making shots at that point, but instead of shutting down they turned to their defense and after the Bearcats made things interesting in the fourth quarter, they ultimately prevailed 53-44.

“We didn’t make a field goal in the fourth quarter,” Randall pointed out. “But when you keep guarding you’re going to be able to win those games when you can’t make shots if you guard good enough and I thought we contested really good.

“Some nights you’re not going to shoot it very well, but that’s no excuse to not win. Defense, rebounding and not turning the ball over don’t have anything to do with making shots. Those things should be consistent. Communicating, effort, intensity, that stuff has to go no matter whether the ball goes through the rim or not.”

The Wildcats were sharp early, hitting their first four 3-pointers of the game and opening a 16-9 lead. Then they went cold the rest of the half and Weaver climbed back to within one by quarter’s end. They turned up the defense in the second quarter , held the Bearcats scoreless until the final two minutes of the half, and used that defense to create a 15-0 run that gave them control of the game.

“That was the difference,” Weaver’s Dawson Brooks said as he was leaving the locker room.

The Wildcats ran the lead to 21 midway through the third quarter, but then lost their edge and made only one field goal the rest of the game. The only points they scored in the final 12 minutes were a bucket by Luke Bussey near the end of the third quarter and fourth-quarter free throws by Bussey and leading scorer Daniel Williams (16 points).

Weaver, meanwhile, used the drought to steadily climb back into the game. The Bearcats got within eight and had the ball with 2:20 to play, but got no closer.

 Tristan Brown 6 4-6 16, Elijah Smith 0 0-0 0, Jeffrey Miles 0 0-0 0, Dawson Brooks 2 1-2 5, Dalton Homesley 0 0-0 0, Jackson Williams 3 0-0 6, Zack Garner 0 0-0 0, Armane Burton 6 2-2 17, Austin Snider 0 0-2 0. Totals 17 7-12 44.
WHITE PLAINS – Dylan Barksdale 4 0-0 9, Paul Laube 0 0-0 0, Z.J. Rosario 3 0-2 9, Josh Wheeler 1 0-0 3, Coleman Ray 1 0-0 3, Daniel Williams 4 7-10 16, Luke Bussey 4 1-4 11, Carter Johnson 1 0-0 2, Silas Hines 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 8-16 53.

Weaver105159 —44
White Plains1620152 —53

3-point goals: Weaver 3 (Burton 3); White Plains 9 (Barksdale, Rosario 3, Wheeler, Ray, Williams, Bussey 2). Total fouls: Weaver 13, White Plains 12. Officials: Hoffman, McCord, Warren.

FAITH CHRISTIAN 78, RAGLAND 51: The Lions rode a three-headed monster to the regional finals last year, but lost one of the pieces to graduation.

Cut one off another grows back.

The Lions had their three-headed monster back in this game at least as Conner Richerzhagen went to 17 to join returning heads Thomas Curlee (26) and Yoshua Arevalo (17) to spearhead the offense.

“Third head back, same last name,” Faith coach Cory Hughes said, referring to Conner who stepped into the role vacated by his brother Ethan’s graduation. “It’s really, really nice. To have three scoring guys in the mix makes us a very difficult team to guard.

“Everybody knows Thomas and everybody’s going after him, but Yoshi was our high scorer in game one and Conner found his groove tonight.”

Richerzhagen hit 6-of-16 shots from the field, including five 3-pointers. Curlee was 10-of-24 and Arevalo was 7-of-23. Curlee also grabbed 16 rebounds and Arevalo had five steals.

“The first game he got in foul trouble really quick and he had to come out of the game and never found his rhythm,” Hughes said of Richerzhagen. “He only took two shots that game and just never playing any varsity minutes (before) didn’t really find his groove and then tonight was able to really feel himself and got very, very comfortable.”

With Richerzhagen hitting two 3s and Curlee scoring 14 points, the Lions jumped out to a 23-11 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. They outscored the Purple Devils in every quarter but the third.

“We’re playing with such cohesion and chemistry on defense, it’s like a spider web,” Hughes said. “We’re full-court man all the time, of course, but our guys have become so good at helping each other. There were so many times when Ragland would spin away from one guy and they’d land in the lap of another guy.

“We’re tough on the defensive end and I feel like when that happens we kind of run downhill on the offensive end, get a lot of open shots, and we hit them.”

RAGLAND – Brayden Collins 4 0-3 11, Jordan Turner 8 0-1 17, Tocorian Soles 8 0-1 16, Ezra Hill 1 0-0 3, Jaden Isbell 1 0-0 2, Others 1 0-1 2. Totals 23-60 0-9 51.
FAITH CHRISTIAN – Thomas Curlee 10-24 4-7 26, Conner Richerzhagen 6-16 0-1 17, Yoshua Arevalo 7-23 1-2 17, Parker Robertson 2-8 0-0 6, Tyler Bell 2-5 1-1 5, Eli Robinson 2-8 0-1 4, Kolton Eubanks 1-1 0-0 3, Joseph Carroll 0-3 0-0 0, Carson Limbaugh 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 30-89 6-12 78.

Ragland11121513 – 51
Faith Christian23161326 –78

3-point goals: Ragland 5-23 (Collins 3, Turner, Hill); Faith 12-36 (Curlee 2-4, Richerzhagen 5-10, Arevalo 2-11, Robertson 2-6, Bell 0-1, Eubanks 1-1, Carroll 0-2, Limbaugh 0-1). Rebounds: Ragland 34, Faith 45 (Curlee 16, Arevalo 8). Fouled out: Robinson. Total fouls: Ragland 12, Faith 16. Officials: Kelley, Jarrett, McGraw.

MUNFORD 51, GASTON 50 (OT): The Lions gave first-year coach Riley Jones another nailbiter he could cope with, winning for the second night in a row in overtime.

Alex Petty hit one of two free throws with 16 seconds left in the extra period to give the Lions the lead and then the defense created a turnover on the next possession to seal the victory. Gaston’s Brock Bagley tied the game with 20 seconds left.

The Lions used a big fourth quarter to get back in the game, but Gaston sent it into overtime when Adonis Jones hit a free throw in the final 30 seconds.

All three of the Lions’ games this season have been decided in the final 10 seconds or overtime. They lost their opener to Weaver on a three-point play with nine seconds left and they beat Donoho in overtime Thursday.

“I’d prefer them not to be like that,” Jones said after the Donoho game, “but if we come out on top I’ll cope with it.”

Munford491021 7 –51
Gaston5191286 –50


Cedar Bluff 54, Cleburne County 39
Collinsville 52, Gaylesville 23
Gaston 47, Munford 38
Southside 45, Hokes Bluff 6
Valley Head 65, Jacksonville Christian 48
White Plains 53, Weaver 22

WHITE PLAINS 53, WEAVER 22: The Lady Wildcats came out a lot sharper and a lot cleaner than they did in their opener against Oxford and scored their first victory of the season.

Isabella Higgins and Cooper Martin led White Plains’ offense with 18 and 14 points, respectively. Higgins scored 12 points in the first half as the Lady Wildcats opened a 29-8 halftime lead and Martin opened the second half by burying three straight 3-pointers.

“We were a little more aggressive,” White Plains coach Matt Ford said. “I thought we were playing scared the other night a little bit. We have to look to attack to score. We have to shoot the ball to score and we didn’t get a lot of shots off the other night.

“Bella did a really good job around the goal – she’s a threat down there for us – and Cooper shot it well. I think the reason we did is because we were unselfish and were willing to make the extra pass to an open teammate.”

 Erionna Richmond 1 0-0 2, D.J. Gibbs 1 3-11 5, Ella Mae Kines 0 0-0 0, Alayia D’Ambrosia 0 0-0 0, Iyanna Wright 0 0-0 0, McKenley Davis 0 0-0 0, Aaliyah Marks 2 4-5 8, Madison Atchley 1 3-4 5, Kimira Miles 1 0-0 2, Kinley Marvesty 0 0-0 0, Josselyn Masaniai 0 0-0 0, Samariah Moore 0 0-0 0. Totals 6 10-20 22.
WHITE PLAINS – Cooper Martin 5 0-2 14, Isabella Higgins 9 0-0 18, Abbie Dickeson 0 0-0 0, Hallie Williams 3 1-3 7, Chloee Cromer 1 0-0 3, Braeton Moran 1 0-0 2, Kylee Provencio 0 0-0 0, Cassidy Arnold 3 0-0 8. Totals 22 1-5 53.         

Weaver44140 –22
White Plains1316177 –53

3-point goals: White Plains 8 (Martin 4, Cromer, Morgan, Arnold 2). Fouled out: Williams. Total fouls: Weaver 6, White Plains 18. Officials: McCord, Warren, Royster.

VALLEY HEAD 65, JCA 48: Kara Grace led the Lady Thunder with 12 points. Rebekah Carter and Erin Prater had nine each.

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