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Collins bolsters MA past Lowndes

In the span of seven seconds, Longhorn senior Wood Collins pushed a one-point lead to a five-point advantage and sealed what ultimately proved to be a 47-44 Marengo Academy (8-4, 5-1) win over region foe Lowndes Monday.

With 16.8 seconds to go and his team down four, Lowndes Academy’s Kristian Kilpatrick stepped just to the left of the top of the key and drained a three-pointer that left MA down 43-42. That led up to the game-clinching series in which Collins took the inbound pass and absorbed a foul before going to the line to sink both of his free throws and give the Longhorns a 45-42 advantage.

With 9.8 seconds remaining, Collins camp up with a pivotal steal and absorbed yet another foul, again knocking down both of his charity stripe opportunities to push the lead to 47-42.

“I was just looking to steal the ball because we were only ahead by a couple points. If I could get to the line, I knew I’d knock them down,” Collins said.

“Wood Collins was the difference in the game,” Marengo head coach Eddie Edwards said. “Wood has got a unique characteristic about him. He’s got the quickest hand-eye coordination of anybody on the team. He is so good on steals. He knows when to do it and when not to do it and that’s just a case of Wood Collins standing up and being a winner.”

The climactic series in the game was set up by a second-half Rebel run that saw a 25-19 halftime advantage on the part of the Longhorns evaporate as Lowndes pulled the contest to a 32-all tie by the end of the third quarter.

The Rebels gained the advantage by knocking MA out of its offensive gameplan, which was predicated on getting the ball to center Chase Smyly.

“We were trying to give the ball to Chase because he’s our go-to guy,” Collins said. “They did a good job of containing him and somebody else had to step up.”

“We knew what Lowndes was going to run and we worked on it the last two practices,” Edwards said. “They did one thing we were not prepared for. They were physically pushing Chase Smylyout of the lane. They were making him take the ball high and his forte is taking the ball low.”

The offensive hiccup enabled Lowndes to take its first lead of the game with 2:54 remaining in the fourth quarter. The lead was short-lived as the Longhorns again leaned on their defense to recapture the advantage.

“The tiems that we went to the press and sped the game up, we got a lot of turnovers out of it,” Edwards said of the Longhorns’ preferred defense, a strategy the team has infrequently employed of late due to a lack of depth as the result of a rash of injuries.

Junior Matt Wallace drained the three that put Marengo up to stay.

“Having Matt Wallace out there is like having an extra coach,” Edwards said.

Collins led the Longhorns with a game high 17 points, adding a pair of steals, blocks and assists in the process. Smyly finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and two steals. Wallace capped his night with 10 points, five rebounds, five assists, six steals and a blocked shot.