By Mark Clark
Basketball may be a lot like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what each game will present. The Central High Red Devils are aware of this after playing last week’s slate of games.
The Red Devils managed to take what was thrown their way and remained undefeated at 13-0.
It is just a part of basketball. From night to night, you see something different. You just don’t know what to expect until you see it,” Central coach Bobby Wright said following his team’s victory over Russell County last Saturday night. “We saw a slow paced game at Auburn, even when they trailed us. We saw a fast game against Russell County. You just have to be ready for anything. The most important thing is that you keep your composure and stay focused on the type of game we play.”
After starting the week with a 59-49 victory over Sidney Lanier High, the Red Devils had to face area rival Auburn High and won 53-42. The Red Devils defeated Russell County 73-61.
Wright said the Auburn contest was the most difficult to win with the Tigers playing a slow, methodical offensive game. The Tigers employed their strategy whether they were ahead or behind on the scoreboard.
Auburn took a 14-9 lead in the first quarter and led 24-23 at halftime. When the third quarter ended, Central had managed to take a 36-32 advantage. The Red Devils pulled away further in the final quarter by outscoring Auburn 17-10 to win 53-42.
“That was an emotional win at Auburn. The game with Auburn was a tough one and I wondered how we would respond to playing Russell County tonight (Saturday). I found out, but I am going to have to look at the video to see just what happened to us,” Wright said.
Wright’s reference to “what happened to us” was made because his squad saw a 20-point lead erased late in the contest before his squad regrouped to win the contest by 12 points.
“We came out lackadaisical. We didn’t run our offense. I can’t wait to see the video. Our whole complexion changed and we let them back in the ballgame,” Wright said.
While the Red Devils showed signs of being lackadaisical as they started the night against Russell County, the Warriors did not. The Central rival knocked down the first six points of the night before the Red Devils could get on the scoreboard, nearly two minutes into the contest. By the end of the initial quarter, Central had whittled the margin to two pints and trailed 12-10.
After Russell County’s Damen Lloyd put the score at 16-12 in favor of the Warriors with 6:23 left in the first half, Central went on a 16-0 run to lead 28-16 before Lloyd scored with 1:09 left in the second quarter to stop the run. At halftime, Central led 33-19.
Central built a 20-point lead in the third quarter, leading 52-32 with 1:11 left. But, the Warriors cut the margin back to 14 by the quarter’s end at 54-40.
In the final quarter, the Red Devils saw Russell County cut its lead from 65-49 with 5:01 left in the contest to 65-57 with 4:05 remaining. Both teams spent the next two minutes committing turnovers and neither scored. Central’s Donald Jackson and DeAnthony Miles scored baskets to push their team back up by 12 points at 69-57 with 1:42 to play. The two teams traded baskets from there until time expired.
Tremaine Porter and Jackson both had 15 points to lead Central. Miles had 14 points. Justyn Ross finished with 12 points for Central.
“This is two games in a row that DeAnthony has been our MVP. He has really given us a spark coming off the bench,” Wright said.
Lloyd led Russell County with 20 points while JaQuon Pritchett scored 14 points and Rodney Battle had 13 for the Warriors.
In Central game with Sidney Lanier, the Red Devils trailed for the first three quarters before rallying for the win in the final eight minutes. The Poets took an 11-4 lead in the first quarter, led 29-24 at the half and led 42-38 entering the final quarter. In the last quarter, Central scored 21 points while holding the Poets to seven.
Porter led Central with 19 points. Jackson scored 13 points. Tremere Brown had 12 points for the Red Devils.
Central will be at home tonight to face Opelika before traveling to Smiths Station for another area game. With a 2-0 area record, the Red Devils can clinch the area title on Friday night with a victory over the Panthers. On Saturday, Central will travel to play at Russell County.