Southbound: Its been a long wait for this Mobile trip

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 23, 2004

For the first time in six years, the Demopolis High Tigers will be headed to Mobile to play in the regionals, as they knock off the Bibb County Choctaws Thursday night 70-58 in a fourth period thriller at home.

Junior Greg McClain lead the way for the Tigers with 21 points, 2 blocks, 2 assist and 2 rebounds, while hitting 10-of-12 from the line in the fourth period to help give the Tigers breathing room.

“I told them before the game that in order for us to win we were going to have to play like we were down by 10 points all night,” DHS head coach Jesse Bell said.

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With a trip to Mobile on the line, the Tigers decided to listen to their coach Thursday night and played solid for four straight quarters. But still had trouble closing the deal on the Choctaws and things came down to the wire.

The Tigers headed into the fourth period with a 9-point lead and plenty of bounce still left in their step, but the Choctaws decide that they were tired of trailing the Tigers and decided to make their stand just minutes into the fourth period.

“We should have put them away when we had that 11 point lead at the beginning of the fourth period,” Bell said. “We knew they were going to make a run there in the end, I’m just happy we stayed calm and didn’t turn the ball over.”

The Tigers played hard throughout, but their performance in the fourth period was where they claimed the right to go to Mobile. The Tigers scored a season high 27 points in the fourth period hitting 12-of-19 from the line.

The Choctaws who have been known for their outside game, must have traded it in for an inside game as they ended the night hitting only 2-of-10 from 3-point land. Leading the way for the Choctaws was Arthur Smith with 13 points, while Rodrick Clayton followed with 12 points.

“They knew we were going to take away the 3-point shot, so they’re game plan was the same as ours, attack the basket,” Bell said.

Following behind McClain was senior forward Lequintin Lomax, who collected 16 points, 2 rebounds and 2-steals. Junior G. W. Washington also saw double digits Thursday night as he collected 15 points and 5-assist. Leading the Tigers on defense was none other than Dontrell Miller, who ended the night with 7 points, 11 assist, 5 steals and 4 rebounds.

“Defensively I was very pleased with our performance,” Bell said. “But we did give up too many easy shots in the second half.”

As a team the Tigers had 16 turnovers against the Choctaws, but were 18-of-28 (65 percent) from the line and 20-of-37 (54 percent) from the field, while collecting 10 steals. With the win the next stop for the Tigers will be Mobile next Friday night where, according to coach Bell, the Tigers are sure to find out just how good of a team they are.

“We are exactly where we want to be at,” Bell said. “Now we get see just how good of a basketball team we truly are.”