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November 21, 2012

PREP BASKETBALL: Dawgs escape 1st round with 70-68 OT victory over Curry

Cold Springs also advances; Raiders, Saints head to consolation bracket

HANCEVILLE — After three clunkers to open Hanceville’s 30th annual Thanksgiving tournament Tuesday at the Tom Drake Coliseum, the host Bulldogs finally gave their home-crowd something to cheer about in the final first-round game.

Chris Smith nailed a pair of go-ahead free throws with 9.6 seconds remaining in overtime, and Curry’s Wesley Keys missed both of his attempts just seven seconds later, allowing the Bulldogs to escape with a knee-knocking 72-70 victory.

Hanceville won the game but came up extremely short in the battle of the boards, which allowed the Yellow Jackets to claw back after trailing by as many as 15 points in the second quarter. The Dawg defense forced its fair share of misses but struggled all night to come down with the rebounds, giving Curry more second-, third- and fourth-chance opportunities than it could count.

The teams traded the lead 10 times from the 3:15 mark in the fourth quarter to the end of the overtime period. Coach Daniel Wakefield was just glad his Hanceville squad found a way to be on top when the final buzzer sounded.

“We had two games to start the season that were not close,” he said, referring to 61-38 and 76-49 wins over Falkville and Hayden in the past week. “To get better, you’ve got to play in games like this where it’s close.”

That was as far as Wakefield’s elation went, however. Once the coach turned to the Bulldogs’ boorish rebounding effort, he wasn’t nearly as much of a happy camper.

“To me, when you can’t rebound, that’s probably the most frustrating thing as a coach to see a team take shot after shot after shot and keep getting putbacks on you,” Wakefield said. “You shouldn’t have a bad night boxing somebody out. Anybody can do that.”

With three big football players — Sheldon Lewis, Tyler Tankersley and Austin Baker — at his disposal in the paint, the coach felt his team should’ve done a far better job of being physical against the Yellow Jackets.

“I don’t mean they’re the only three, but when you’ve got three guys like that, you expect them to clear the lane and control the boards for you,” Wakefield said. “In general, I guess we’ve got to go back and practice a bunch of box-out drills. You can do box-out drills all you want, but until they do it in a game, it doesn’t matter.”

Sophomore stud Brontae Harris was silky smooth with a game-high 27 points, while Smith improved his total to 15 with the go-ahead free throws. Keith Twitty was deadly from behind the arc with 12 points on four 3-pointers, and Reese went on a first-quarter tear for eight points.

Spencer Fikes led Curry with 20 points. Key and Alex Odom both had 15.

The thrilling outcome kept Hanceville’s hopes of winning its Thanksgiving tournament for a fourth straight year fully intact. Next up for the Bulldogs is Mortimer Jordan, which advanced by beating Good Hope earlier in the day. That semifinal contest will take place Wednesday at 7:15 p.m.

“I don’t know if Mortimer Jordan is better than Curry or not, but I know that Mortimer Jordan is really good,” Wakefield said. “We’re going to have to play a whole lot better than that or we’ll be going to the loser’s bracket tomorrow night.”

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