E.A. Sports Today

Next man up

Having added Bethel to the list of contributors lost for the season, Piedmont rolls on to area final, subregional. Weaver avenges last year’s difficult loss to Saks, earns subregional berth.

Cover photo: Piedmont’s Colton Proctor (middle) and Luke Rhinehart pressure Wellborn’s Ollie Boot during Saturday’s Class 3A, Area 11 action at Piedmont. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Saturday scoreboard

Piedmont 71, Wellborn 35
Weaver 62, Saks 50
Oxford 62, Gadsden City 55
Spring Garden 90, Jacksonville Christian 44
Handley 49, Talladega 41
Anniston 74, Munford 11
Glencoe 55, Ohatchee 24
Spring Garden 88, Jacksonville Christian 19
Alexandria 40, Lincoln 34
Jacksonville 70, White Plains 29

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT — Piedmont’s boys once again must do the next-man-up thing, only this time in postseason.

Playing without injured Ishmael Bethel, the Bulldogs awoke from a slow start and rolled to a 71-35 victory over Wellborn in Saturday’s Class 3A, Area 11 semifinals.

The Bulldogs (15-10) clinched a subregional berth and will play Weaver in Tuesday’s area final. Weaver beat Saks 62-50 later Saturday,

Colton Proctor led Piedmont with 21 points, including five of the Bulldogs’ 11 3-pointers, and they got 12 points from Taylon Swain and 10 from Ben Dempsey.

“Ish is a big factor, and all, but next-man-up mentality,” Proctor said. “We’ve got Taylon stepping up, and Ben, especially when we need a backup point guard without Rollie, too.”

Rollie Pinto, Piedmont’s top-returning scorer from last season, tore a knee ligament in football and hasn’t played basketball this season.

Bethel tore a labrum during the Sylvania game in football season but played on. He played on through basketball until Piedmont’s 45-29 victory at Sand Rock on Jan. 25, when he reaggravated the shoulder injury.

“He dove for a ball, and it (the shoulder joint) came out,” first-year Piedmont coach Matt Glover said. “When he woke up the next morning, it hurt. He told me it felt like a rubber band, so went in, and they said they’d have to go ahead and have surgery.”

Bethel will have surgery Wednesday. Projections are he’ll be healthy for football, where he’s an  all-state wide receiver.

As for the latest next-man-up adventures to greet Glover in his first season as Piedmont’s head coach, Swain has been promoted from sixth man. Dylan Oliver, Luke Rhinehart and Dempsey, up from junior varsity, all bring something to the cause to fill Bethel’s shoes.

As for Saturday’s game, Glover called timeout with Piedmont trailing 7-5 in the first quarter, and his voice resonated through the gym.

“I didn’t think we were playing hard,” he said. “Unfortunately, I think we take it for granted sometimes. We had beat that bunch twice and were playing for a third time.

“They were hungry. They were playing hard. They were outrebounding us, so I called a timeout and made sure to get their attention to let them know, hey, if lose, you don’t have another game.”

It was all Piedmont from there. The Bulldogs wound up hitting four threes in the first quarter and led 18-13 by quarter’s end.

Wellborn got 10 points from Ollie Boot and finished 3-19 under first-year head coach Todd Lumpkin.

“Obviously, we would want the record to be better, but there’s improvement there,” Lumpkin said. “We had three wins in the past three years, so we got three this year.

“It’s just a continuing building thing, and we’ve got a good group coming up.”

Weaver’s Harper Williams fires a pass out to Gabe King during the Bearcats’ victory over Saks in the Class 3A, Area 11 semifinals on Saturday at Piedmont. (Photo by Joe Medley)

WEAVER 62, SAKS 50: Nothing like a good memory to wipe out a bad memory, and Weaver made a good memory Saturday,

Gabe King led the way with 21 points, and No. 3 seed Weaver eliminated No. 2 Saks, clinching berth in Tuesday’s area final against Piedmont and the subregional round.

Weaver also avenged a 52-48 loss to Saks in last year’s area semifinals. Weaver led that game by 11 points at halftime, only to see Saks come back. 

Senior All-Calhoun County player Tristan Brown watched the last 51.1 seconds on the bench, fouling out after a double-whammy illegal-screen foul and technical foul.

What a difference a year makes. Then-Saks coach Jonathan Miller, now Piedmont’s head football coach and athletics director, watched Saturday’s action from the home bench corner.

Weaver will make its first subregional in two years.

“It’s good to be back,” Weaver coach Beau Winn said. “It’s been a long time coming for these boys, and they’ve worked hard for it.”

Besides’ King’s big night, Weaver got 13 points from D.J. Marbury and 12 from KeShawn Allen. 

“We all played hard,” King said. “We finally came together and played as a team. We didn’t play selfish basketball. If the net was open, we looked for the open look. We all hustled on rebounds and getting back on defense.

“We played as a team. I couldn’t do it without them.”

The Bearcats hit 11 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter to prevent a Saks comeback this time.

Joshua Todd led Saks with 14 points, and Lajuan Curry hit three 3-pointers for nine points.

“It was a hard-fought game,” first-year Saks coach Wes Ginn said. “Weaver hurt us with their 1-3-1 trap and played good tonight, and we just didn’t make shots and handle the ball very well against it.”

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