‘Cats thrive in extra timePublished 2:07pm Saturday, February 2, 2013
By Ed Bailey
Not even another offensive explosion from Xavier Moon could stop the Benjamin Russell Wildcats from securing a win in hostile territory.
The Wildcats were victorious in an overtime battle with Central-Coosa, winning 60-58.
Javoskie McNeal was the hero for Benjamin Russell, scoring a team-high 25 points and the game-winning lay-in with four seconds left in the extra period.
The victory is the third for the Wildcats in their last four games, and puts their record at 9-14 heading into the area tournament.
“We were fortunate to win the game,” BRHS boys basketball coach Jeff Hines said. “It was obvious that we were a little fatigued. Our effort was good but our intensity wasn’t there and our focus wasn’t sharp. I thought our kids just gutted it our and showed tremendous heart.”
Moon scored 42 points for the Cougars, but his offense was slowed late in the game after Benjamin Russell switched Gregory Buckner onto CCHS’ star guard.
“Where he struggles is when you put length on him,” Hines said of Moon. “That’s why we put Greg on him.”
The game itself was tight from start to finish, with neither team able to hold a lead larger than five.
Benjamin Russell got their lead up to four in OT, but a steal and lay-in by CCHS’ TyJustin Gaddis brought the deficit down to two.
Moon then drew a foul during a three-point shot and hit two of his three free throws to tie the game.
Ronnie Stacy, who had 14 points, drove the baseline as time wound down but missed the lay-up.
McNeal was there for clean up duty, putting the game away with his follow on the miss.
CCHS boys basketball coach Joe Belyeu said the game was one his team should have come away with.
“This was a game we had many opportunities to win, but we weren’t able to do it,” Belyeu said. “The team was fatigued, it didn’t have the energy. Xavier usually plays a half, and comes back with a second wind but he didn’t have it tonight.”
The loss drops Central-Coosa to 13-11 on the year, but by virtue of a coin flip CCHS will host its area tourney. BRHS plays Booker T. Washington at Valley in area tourney play.
BRHS girls vs. CCHS girls
Despite the absence of Cookie Kelly, the Lady Wildcats of Benjamin Russell High School handled the Central-Coosa Lady Cougars 48-35.
The difference was the second half, which Benjamin Russell dominated offensively. They outscored Central-Coosa 38-18 in the third and fourth quarters.
The win is the fourth straight for the Lady ‘Cats, and puts their record at 12-8 on the year.
Alexis Flowers and Chloe Owens led the Lady ‘Cats in scoring with 11 points each. Aaliyah Lawson had nine points and Jernika Russell had eight points.
Russell led a decisive offensive rebounding advantage that BRHS exploited for second chance opportunities.
Starkeria McKenzie led CCHS with 18 points. Meosha Burton added nine.