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Oh yeah! Essex and DHS dominate

In his six years tenure as coach of the Demopolis High School Lady Tigers, Tony Pittman has finally learned the recipe for winning – the secret recipe is a little dash of defense and a pinch of Essex.

In their best defensive performance of the season, the DHS Lady Tigers basketball team defeated the Madison County Lady Tigers 52-47 Wednesday night in the AHSAA 4A Girls Semi Final in Birmingham.

Gabrielle Essex led all scorers with 25 points, nine rebounds, three assists and one steal. When you put the ball in Essex’s hands, things just seem to happen.

Demopolis dominated the first half. Center Kelli Johnson was a tremendous force, collecting six points, nine rebounds and a couple of blocks on the night.

She dominated the boards down low. Johnson was very aggressive. It looked like it was going to be a blowout in the first half. DHS led 30-19 at halftime.

However, in the third period, Madison County showed why the deserved to be in Birmingham.

They made a run and were able to get within two points at the end of the third period.

Demopolis had collected only four turnovers in the first half, but racked up eight in the third period. DHS wound up with 12 turnovers to Madison County’s 13.

Pittman called time out with a minute left in the third and got the team refocused.

The Demopolis team played the smartest they have all year in the last two minutes of the game. They were only up by two points going into the last two minutes of the game. DHS made Madison County foul, and Demopolis hit the shots they had to hit and then rebounding on the defensive end.

It was an outstanding team effort for DHS. Shawnese Armstead had five points, Jannet Woods had seven, and Katerria Johnson added nine points and nine rebounds.

DHS shot a 45.7 field goal percentage in the game, a little lower than normal. Madison County shot 30.5.

“In the third quarter Madison County showed why they belong here,” coach Pittman said.

“…They caught us changing defenses and took advantage of it.”

Ashley Green led Madison County with 16 points, Whitney Baldwin had five, Margie Evans had six, Jessie Harless had nine, and Samantha Whited added eight. No Madison County player really stood out.

The free throw percentage was 42.1 for DHS and 50 for Madison County.

Essex was able to handle the pressure of the semi final well. “It’s just another game at a new place,” she said.

“We haven’t done anything yet,” Pittman said. “We go back to work tomorrow.”

Demopolis has a 26-4 record; Madison County ended its season at 25-9.

Deshler beat Southside-Selma Wednesday 79-60 – so DHS will play Deshler Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Arena.