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Demopolis boys hold off Marion, 53-47

Demopolis’s varsity boys had taken an early lead on the road against Francis Marion. They’d held it through three quarters. And when the Runnin’ Rams threatened it in the fourth quarter, head coach Jesse Bell says, it became a matter of simply refusing to let it go.

“When they made their run,” he says, referring to a late Marion effort that cut the lead to three, “our defense just stepped up. They didn’t want to give that lead up.”

The result was a 53-47 win Tuesday night that improved the Tigers to 3-1 on the season and avenged Demopolis’s only other loss on the young season, a 45-35 defeat at home to the Rams Nov. 29.

One major factor in the Tigers’ overturning of the earlier result was the presence of sophomore forward Casey Cantey. After missing the teams’ first meeting, Cantey made up for lost time by leading all scorers with 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Jonathan Anderson led Francis Marion with 14, but the Demopolis defense was able to hold the rest of the Rams under double figures.

As in the earlier meeting, Demopolis had a narrow lead at the end of the first quarter, 14-10. But unlike the Nov. 29 game, this time the Tigers were able to hold onto the edge, leading 25-22 at halftime and 38-33 after three quarters.

Bell says that thanks to some hard work in practice, including sessions on how to deal with different opposing defenses, Demopolis’s offense is starting to catch up with its defense.

“I’m pleased with the way we run the offense,” Bell says. “It’s what we’ve doing in practice. They’ve been a little more focused … They knew what to do when they saw the zone [Marion used].”

Joining Cantey in the Demopolis scorebook were Dontrell Miller, who finished with 15 points, Willie Blount with 9, Willie Gracey with 4, Brian Burrell and Sandy Taylor with 2, and Patrick Robertson with 1.

For Francis Marion, Anderson was followed by Justin Johnson and Antonio Collins with 8, Kevin Curry with 6, Charles Gray with 5, Edward Hinkle with 4, and Deandrius Williams with 2.

The Rams, who fell to 6-3 with the loss, will next take the court at the Sunshine Classic in Newbern this Saturday. Demopolis will face Livingston at home next Tuesday.