Tiger seniors look to keep careers alive

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 10, 2006

Talk to the seniors on the Demopolis boys basketball team this week, and you’ll hear one word: Focused. Focused. Focused.

“We’re real focused,” says Dwiaun White, one of four Tigers who will be playing in their final area tournament this week. “We have to go out and play together. If we go out and do what we know to do, we’ll be all right.”

The seniors are focused because if their team doesn’t play together, doesn’t do what they know to do, they won’t have the opportunity to do it better next time. Demopolis takes on Livingston in the semifinals of the 4A area 5 tournament in Eutaw Friday night at 6 p.m., and while a win gives the Tiger seniors both the chance to play for the area crown and a berth in the 4A sub-regionals, a loss ends their season–and careers.

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“We feel confident,” says senior guard Dontrell Miller, whose startling last-second block of a Livingston dunk preserved a Demopolis win in the two teams’ first confrontation this season. “We feel like we can go out and beat the one more time.”

Miller is the Tigers’ best perimeter defender and a constant threat to convert a steal into points, making him the highest scorer of the four seniors and perhaps the one most critical to Demopolis’s chances Friday.

But all four play important roles in head coach Jesse Bell’s rotation. Guard Willie Blount is a starter whose defense and dribble penetration will be key against Livingston’s dangerous Jeremy Yates; White is a rugged rebounder and defender at the power forward position; and Espy provides steady minutes at shooting guard, often in the pivotal closing minutes of the first half.

“We’re working hard this week, going over all the little stuff,” Espy says of his team’s preparations for the Livingston game. “Practice has been harder, more intense. There’s lots of specifics. I’m excited.”

According to Blount, it’s those specifics that are going to make or break his team’s chances Friday.

“We have to block out, grab rebounds, make our free throws,” he says. “It’s the small things we have to do.”

Do them, and the Tiger seniors will have at least two more chances to do them again in a Demopolis uniform.