Sunshine sets on Hornets

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 21, 2005

In the final minute of the opening half of the 1A girls’ clash between Sunshine and John Essex, and early lead for the visitors from Hale County had dwindled to five.By the time Essex had scored another field goal, the contest was all but over.

Sunshine used a barrage of threes and a sticky-fingered defense to blow open a close game and win going away over the homestanding Hornets 66-31.

The Tigers began the game on a roll, using a series of steals to generate fast break points and open up a 10-point lead, 18-8, early in the second quarter. But Maria Daniels’ third three-pointer of the half narrowed the gap for John Essex to five at 28-23.

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It was then that Sunshine guard Shaquanda Perry hit the biggest shot of the night, a three-pointer at the first-half buzzer to send the Tigers in to the locker room on a high note.

That momentum clearly carried over to the third quarter, during which Sunshine drained five threes and scored a total of 23 points.Unfortunately for the Essex fans, just as Sunshine heated up the Hornets cooled down. They finished the third quarter without a field goal, scoring only two points from a pair of free throws and finding themselves in a 19-point hole, 54-25.

By the time Essex hit a shot from the field, only six minutes remained in the game and Sunshine was out of reach.

Perry, who scored the Tigers’ final eight points of the first half, finished with 15 to lead all scorers. Daniels’ first-half barrage was enough to lead the Hornets with nine.

John Essex JV Boys’ 33

Sunshine JV Boys’ 32

A wild final minute saw the John Essex boys’ junior varsity pull out a home thriller over Sunshine High. Essex had trailed by as many as eight in the final quarter before rallying behind strong work on the boards and a series of forced turnovers. Their hard work looked to be for nothing, however, when a technical foul was assessed on Essex with less than 30 seconds to play and Sunshine still up two, 32-30. But the visiting Tigers missed both free throws and turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, opening the door for the Hornets to score a quick basket. Essex then stole the ball and drew a foul on the resulting fast break, sending Ken Phillips to the line. He made the first of two to seal the Essex win, 33-32.

The Hornets were paced by Jimmy Branch, who scored 16. Nate Zimmerman led the visiting Tigers with nine.