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Sumter County nips Rams

Mobile — Senior Reaynundo Sturdivant sank two free throws with 14 seconds left in the game to give the Sumter County Wildcats a win over the Francis Marion Rams by the score of 54-51.

“The momentum had shifted to the Rams by the time Reaynundo hit those two free throws,” said Sumter coach Johnny Patrick.

Patrick was referring to the two consecutive three pointers Francis Marion hit prior to Sturdivants free throws. The Wildcats calmly sank 10 out of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter, which was the difference in the closing minutes of the game. Junior Temorris Coleman sank 7 of 8 of them down the stretch.

Sumter County gained an early 10-point lead in the first quarter on offensive rebounding. They closed the first half up 27-18. The Wildcats stayed out front in this one the entire game. Francis Marion waited until the end of the fourth quarter to stage a comeback. Senior Julius Allgood of the Rams hit a three pointer with 15 seconds left in the game to pull his team within one, 52-51. Francis Marion had another chance to tie the game in the closing seconds but missed on two tries.

“We’ve played them four times this season,” said Patrick, “so we know each other well. Our game plan was to play a good man to man.”

Ram coach Woodie Jackson said, “How can a team play against a man-to-man defense and only get to the foul line three times and they get there 29 times? I’m just asking.”

The stats show that there were 54 fouls called against the Wildcats, 51 calls against the Rams. Coleman, who quarterbacked the team masterfully in the fourth led his team with 13 points and 6 steals.

Senior Marko Mitchell, the tournament MVP, added 12 points and grabbed 5 boards. R. Sturdivant chipped in 12 points and 5 steals. For Francis Marion, Allgood scored a game high 17 points and pulled down 6 rebounds. Sophomore Kelvin Curry poured in 12 points.

Sumter County has now won five regional championships in 10 years. Patrick, who will retire after 21 seasons as head coach of the Wildcats, takes his team to Birmingham seeking its fifth state championship. They will return to the hardwood at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to face Litchfield.