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Hornets sting Bulldogs

John Essex extended its season by at least one more game Tuesday night, scoring a 71-59 win over Sweet Water in the play-in round of the Class 1A, Area 5 tournament. The Hornets had three players score in double figures and two other come just one shot away from reaching the feat in a balanced scoring attack.

The teams found themselves tied at the end of the first period before Essex took a 34-33 advantage in to the locker room.

The Hornets outpaced the Bulldogs 14-9 in the third period on the back of the offensive play of Keonte Alvis.

“Keonte is an outstanding offensive player,” JEHS head coach Donald Constant said. “But he is going to have to step it up defensively if he is going to have a shot at being a complete player.”

Despite a 23-point fourth period, Constant was not impressed with his team’s overall performance.

“We didn’t play really good defense. We didn’t rebound and didn’t box out well,” Constant said. “What made the difference for us was those turnovers we got in the press late. If we’re going to beat Linden Friday, our post is going to have to do a better job. Sometimes we take teams light, but we can’t come in here with that mentality against Linden Friday.”

Alvis led the Hornets with 25 points and 11 rebounds. A.J. Bennett added 13 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Tavoris Merriweather contributed 12 points, five rebounds and two steals. Zameke Fluker scored nine points while Dewayne Bonner finished with eight.

The loss capped a tough season for Sweet Water, who entered the year without seven players from the 2009 team that won the area tournament.

“We lost three guys to graduation and I had four other guys who let me down by not playing. I wound up with seven guys who had never played varsity basketball,” SWHS head coach Jonathan Farr said. “I was really proud of our effort tonight. Just got to give credit to John Essex for playing a really good game.”

Senior Bo Williams led Sweet Water with 20 points. Trevor Blanks added 12 and Chris Landrum scored 10.

John Essex moves on to play top-seeded Linden Friday night immediately following the game between Sunshine and A.L. Johnson.