Earning their stripes

Published 8:01 pm Monday, December 29, 2008

Head coach Jesse Bell and his Tigers returned to Demopolis Monday after adding one more win to close out its weekend tilt at 2-0.

Demopolis’ latest victory, a 67-41 win over John Essex in the Choctaw County Classic, came roughly 36 hours after the team defended home court with a 55-50 win over Linden to close out its own classic Saturday.

“We are playing better,” Bell said of his team, which hit its low point in the young season with a loss against Autaugaville on Dec. 22.

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Howeve,r while Bell was high on his team’s progress, he is cautious about its status going into Friday’s crucial area game against Carver.

“We’re not playing with the type of energy we need to play with Friday night,” Bell said.

His team has been prone to slow starts thus far this season and managed only 19 first-half points in Saturday’s game.

“We should have won by double digits easily,” Bell said of the contest against Linden, a game in which his team led by double figures heading into the waning minutes.

Still, Bell was encouraged by his team’s ability to find its stride despite a capacity crowd that he considers to have played a role in his team’s early tensions.

“The atmosphere was great. We had a big crowd,” Bell said of the Linden game.

That crowd became antsy during a 10-minute stretch in which half the lights were shut off and play was halted. Linden trailed by nine at that point.

When the lights came back on, both teams began shooting them back out again, combining for 42 points in the final 10 minutes of the game.

The Tigers carried that success over to Monday’s contest.

“We stayed focused for one thing and we didn’t turn the ball over,” Bell said.

Anthony Hardy scored 20 points and grabbed nine boards to lead the way Monday. Johnathan Marshall and Tyler Smith each added nine while Jeremy Wallace scored eight

Fred Irby put up 13 points Saturday while Hardy had 12 and Wallace added 11. Michael Davis finished with nine.

Demopolis hosts Carver Friday night.