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Essex boys lose

The Hornets watched a two-point halftime deficit turn into 17 by the end of the third quarter as Dallas County pressed its way to a 72-51 victory Friday night in the A.L. Johnson Classic.

“This is the first time this year we’ve been faced with a third quarter like that,” John Essex head coach Rodney Dixon said.

His Hornets trailed 28-26 at intermission and appeared poised to make a run early in the third quarter when it trailed only 33-32.

From there, the athleticism and intensity of Dallas County took over as DCHS score 16 unanswered points to end the period.

“This is the best talent we’ve got beaten by this year,” Dixon said of a DCHS team that was visibly taller and stronger than his Hornets. Still, Dixon was adamant following the game that his team is not 21 points worse than Dallas County.

“It should have been a closer game,” he said.

Dixon stated earlier in the week that his team needed to work on its ability to break through opposing presses.

“Their press did the job it was supposed to do,” Dixon said of Dallas County. “They forced a lot of turnovers. I saw who could handle the ball and who couldn’t handle the ball.”

Despite the loss, Dixon said his team will be able take a number of positive reinforcements from the game.

“First off, I tell them we just faced a 4A competitor that was 10-2,” Dixon said. “We’ll definitely draw positives from that.”

Senior Zackary Fluker led John Essex with 26 points. More than half his points came during a stretch in the fourth quarter in which he fueled a JEHS run that got as close at 13 before once again succumbing to the smothering Dallas County defense. JEHS plays Francis Marion today in the Demopolis Classic.