McKenzie finds first win

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 3, 2004

By the time the McKenzie Tigers and the Georgiana Panthers's varsity squads took the court in Thursday's match-up, it was evident that the game was going to be intense.

With under three minutes to go in the game, the physicality of the game had began to take its toll on the players involved.

McKenzie was able to pull away and pick up the victory 43-34. The Tigers found their first win of the season and left the Panthers searching.

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"I have to give McKenzie credit," said Derek Roberts, coach of the Panthers. "They outplayed us. They beat us by nine points and we missed 20 free throws. There is nothing I can say about that. They out hustled us. I feel like they played much harder than we did."

At the end of the game the Panthers had made multiple trips to the free throw line resulting in 26 shots. But all they had to show for it at the end of the night was four points. Georgiana shot a disappointing 15.3 percent from the free throw line, 4-of-26. The Tigers, however didn't fare much better. McKenize fired off 12 free throws sinking only four of them. They finished the night shooting an anemic 33 percent from the charity stripe.

Despite the poor shooting from the line, the Tigers were still able to hold off the Panthers.

"Give my kids credit," said James Brown, coach of the Tigers. "They outworked them. I can't say they wanted it more, because I know those guys from Georgiana wanted to get us. But at the same time, we just out worked them. David Davison, Rhett Lowe, Nick Kelly, Travis Bush, Daniel Ballard, Trey Bush, Satrick Rudolph and Matthew Bush, all of my guys played significant minutes and wanted it more. That was the difference in the game."

McKenzie won the tip and quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead when the ball bounced into Rhett Lowe's hands. The Tigers tacked on another two points and expanded to a 4-0 lead.

Georgiana rallied back with a 6-0 run and reclaimed the lead, 6-4. Both teams traded baskets and possessions to end the first period with the Tigers on top 14-10.

Samson Nelson is fouled on a three-point attempt and sent to the line, he sinks the first and then rims out the next two freebies. His one basket cut the Tiger lead to three at 14-11.

The Panthers cut the lead to one, 14-13 following a basket by Pee Joe McMeans.

The narrow margin is quickly expanded when Lowe launches a three and gives McKenzie the 17-13 lead.

The Tigers padded their lead to end the first half, going on a 5-2 run.

At halftime, McKenzie was on top, 22-15.

"In the locker room they said it, Georgiana was give out, Brown said.

The Tigers continued their dominance by posting an 11-6 scoring run throughout the third period.

"There is nothing positive I can take out of this loss," said Roberts.

"I said that I think we could bounce back from that 72 point loss, but apparently we couldn't. My players are going to have to do some soul-searching and see if that is what they want to do. They didn't play to my expectations. I'm hoping there is something positive that can come out of it, but if we get in here on Friday and work. But it's a painful loss to miss 20 free throws and lose by nine."

At the end of the third period the Tigers were up 31-21.

Their lead swelled a three from Davison to 36-21. The Tigers went on to stay two or three shots ahead of the Panthers throughout the duration of the second half, with the Tigers finally posting the 43-34 victory.

"I told them before the game that this game meant more to them because that's where their from," Brown said. "It's not where I'm from. This game was not won on coaching, it was won on athletic ability and beyond that, it's McKenzie and it's Georgiana and that's enough."

This is the first win for the Tigers this season. They were defeated by Headland and then by J.F. Shields on Tuesday night, 78-29

With this win, Brown sees that his team is actually taking a step in the right direction for a successful season. But, he also sees that there is some more work that needs to be done.

"The other times we played ball this year, we were out-coached," Brown said. "We were out-played in some of those games. Some of that was because we were out-coached, not just this year but in years past because we are basketball skill poor. That's the challenge that's in front of me is making these guys understand that they've got to be at practice, that's why two of my guys didn't play significant minutes. If the kids aren't at practice to learn what I want them to do, then common sense will tell you that they are not going to know what to do. The two guys that didn't come to practice made mistakes immediately when they got on the floor. I had to give the eight guys that had been at practice the opportunity to play."

Before the Varsity took the floor, the B teams faced off. Georgiana knocked off the Tigers 36-22. Chris Nix had eight points, with two field goals and four free throws. Jerrell Adams and Curtis Ball finished the night with five points each.

"My guys have got to understand that we have to get more on the same page and listen to the coach in order for us to beat the bigger boys," said Brown.

The Tigers will get the opporunity to face those big boys of small school basketball beginning Monday. The Tigers will travel to Red Level and face the Tigers. Tipoff for that game will be set for 4:30 and all three squads will be in action.

The very next night, the Tigers are slated to face Brantley. That game, however, will be reset if the Bulldogs knock off Sweetwater in the 1A AHSAA playoffs. Tenativly, that game is set for 4:30 with all three squads being in action as well.

For the Panthers, they are slated to travel to Brantley Friday night, then begin a five game home tilt that willcarry them to January. The Panthers will hold court against Straughn, Excel, Flomaton and Red Level begin Dec., 7.

The other dates are Dec 10, 14 and Jan. 4.

Tenatively, the start times for those games are 4:30 with all three squads in action.