DHS to face toughest foe in Livingston

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 23, 2004

There is no bigger game for the Demopolis High School varsity boy’s basketball team than the one they will face tonight in Livingston.

With there (2-0) area record, the Tigers have a chance tonight to gain the upper hand in Class 4A Area 8 if they can manage to keep it all together for 32 minutes. And judging by the way the Tigers have been playing this week, that task may be a difficult one.

The 8-5 Tigers were blown away Tuesday night against Choctaw County 61-42 in a game they should have easily won. But selfish play and a lack of defensive effort allowed the visiting Tigers a chance to humiliate the mighty Tigers on their own court.

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Head coach Jesse Bell has seen his team play at many different levels this season-some good and some not so good-but the one he witnessed Tuesday night was by far the worst.

“Tuesday night our defense looked so poor that you couldn’t even tell that we were playing man-to-man coverage. We looked like we were in a zone coverage for most of the game,” Bell said. “That was the worst performance that I’ve seen this season.

But perhaps out of something bad, came something good for the Tigers as they were able to bounce back Wednesday night to take care of the Bibb County Choctaws 55-41. Cedric McKinley lead the way for the Tigers with 12 points and 13 rebounds, while Greg McClain collected 12 points and 6 rebounds. And coach Bell seemed pleased with his team’s defensive efforts as well.

“Our defense was better Wednesday night and I was glad to see that we didn’t turn the ball over 33 times like we did in our first meeting with Bibb County,” Bell said.

From Tuesday night to Wednesday night, the Tigers made a complete 360-degree turnaround and were back playing the game as a team again. But that doesn’t mean that coach Bell can expect the same come tonight.

“I never know how they are going to play from one game to the next. But I have seen that they seem to play the game at the level of their opponent,” Bell said.

Coach Bell may be on to something there. Thus far into the season the Tigers have seemed to play better against teams that are considered as good or even better that they are.

The Tigers got off to a good start this season with a win in Thomasville and followed it up with another much needed win against Greensboro after the Christmas break, but then lost by one point three nights later to Choctaw County.

The Tigers then had another good showing when they took on the No. 2 ranked 3A Sumter County Wildcats and looked impressive in their second meeting with Thomasville, but fell to Bibb County by 20 points on a count of 33 turnovers.

The Tigers have been up and down this season winning when they need to and losing when they shouldn’t, but as far as tonight’s game with the defending state champions’ goes, it looks like the odds favor for the Tigers.

“If we play the way that we are capable of playing then we will win,” Bell said.

But coach Bell also knows first hand that for his team to go to Livingston and play to their fullest capability will not be an easy task. “That’s my alma mater and I know that they are not going to welcome me with open arms tonight,” Bell said.

“It’s hostile territory and if they can, they’re going try to beat us by 20 points.”

For the Tigers to get their third area win tonight they will need to step up their level of play on both sides of the ball and use their unmatched speed to their advantage. The Tigers must keep the ball away from both Cory Speight and Roland Fitts, who know how to handle the ball well. And most importantly, the Tigers will have to keep their turnovers in the single digits.

“This is a big game and in order to win, we have to play big in every phase,” Bell said.