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Talladega nightmare: Poor free-throw shooting dooms Wildcats despite 41-34 advantage in second half

Published 12:03pm Tuesday, January 29, 2013

By Ed Bailey

The Wildcats fell to Talladega 69-66 despite 18 second-half points from Ronnie Stacy and holding a 41-34 scoring advantage in the third and fourth quarters.
Free-throws seem to have been the culprit, as Benjamin Russell went an anemic 10-for-27 from the charity stripe.
The loss drops Benjamin Russell to 7-14 on the year with two games left in the regular season before area play begins.
Stacy led all Wildcat scorers with 26 points. Woo Varner scored 16 points and front-court partner Javoskie McNeal had 10 points.
The Wildcats’ strong second half was keyed by Stacy, Varner and strong play from Marty Purter, who scored 14 points.
“This one stings, but I’m pleased with the way our guys played for 32 minutes” Benjamin Russell boys basketball coach Jeff Hines said. “I give credit to Talladega but you know what, I give credit to our guys, too. This may have been the first time that we laid it all on the line for 32 minutes.”
The final quarter featured eight lead changes. Both teams entered the final stanza knotted at 44, before McNeal gave the Wildcats the lead with a lay-in to start the quarter.
‘Dega answered with a three but Benjamin Russell went right back to McNeal, who put the ball in the basket off a nifty behind-the-back feed from Stacy.
The Tigers responded against but a Purter three-pointer put the Wildcats up two.
Talladega then scored six unanswered points to increase the lead to four, but Purter proved money again from long range to bring the Wildcats within one.
Stacy would then swipe the ball from a Talladega and finish on the offensive end to regain the lead for Benjamin Russell.
Varner would then get a ball theft of his own, which Purter converted into two points.
Purter scored eight points in the fourth.
Another steal by Stacy led to him laying the ball through the twine, completing a 9-0 run for Benjamin Russell and making it 60-55 BRHS with less than three minutes to go.
“We made an adjustment at halftime where we put Stacy at the free-throw line to make them defend,” Hines said. “When Talladega committed, he made some really good passes to our bigs, who were able to finish at the basket.
The Tigers refused to go away, and ended the game on a 14-6 run. Missed free throws from BRHS prevented them from retaking control.
“That is an ongoing project,” Hines said of the Wildcats’ free throw struggles. “We shoot about 49 or 50 percent. It’s like I told my guys, we’ve got to look at the big picture. We’ve got to make free throws, we can’t turn the ball over, we’ve got to finish shots and we’ve got to defend. I thought our defense was very good tonight. I thought our half-court 1-3-1 was really good tonight.”
The Wildcats started slowly in the first half, heading into the break down 35-25.
Hines said the Tigers’ full-court press was problematic for the Wildcats.
“We knew they were going to press us,” “There were times that we defeated the press easily and there were times where we tried to create plays that weren’t there.”
Next for the Wildcats will be their final home game when they take on Childersburg this Thursday.
In addition to it being the final home game for the Wildcats this season, it is also Senior Night.
Hines said the team wants to send its seniors out on a high note.
“We’ve got five guys on this team that we want to leave here with a victory and that’s our seniors,” Hines said. “They deserve that. They’ve put the time in and laid the foundation.”