Tigers cannot hold off Greensboro

Published 4:38 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Demopolis had Greensboro on the ropes until the closing moments Tuesday night when a late surge handed the Raiders a 64-61 victory.

On a night when Alabama head basketball coach Anthony Grant was in attendance and all eyes were on 6-10 Greensboro junior Jimmie Taylor, it was the Demopolis guard play that dictated much of the contest.

The Tigers banged Taylor with much smaller players early and often Tuesday, refusing to let the standout center get deep into the paint. Taylor, frustrated and ineffective, spent much of the night on the bench as the Tiger game plan denied him the ball anywhere near the bottom of the key.

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The strategy worked to perfection as Demopolis overcame an early 6-0 hole to take an 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Demopolis did not trail again until the fourth frame when the wacky ensued, and the Tigers ultimately succumbed to Greensboro pressure.

Following a 20-point third quarter, the Tigers held a nine-point lead to open the fourth quarter. Working against a relentless and athletic Greensboro press, Demopolis positioned itself almost perfectly and used precision passing to further frustrate the Raiders.

But the wheels began to come off when a Greensboro injury led to a delay of more than 10 minutes.

Once play resumed, a bevy of foul calls stalled the pace of the game before somebody turned out the lights. The lights on the offensive end of the court in the Demopolis High School gymnasium went out after a fan unwittingly bumped the switch with the Tigers leading 43-37 with 5:03 to go in the game. The ensuing delay lasted more than 15 minutes.

When play resumed, Greensboro quickly seized the momentum. The press defense forced numerous Demopolis turnovers while the Raiders’ aggressive play had Tigers shooters with frequent reservations at the foul line.

Greensboro ultimately tied the game at 53 with 1:43 to go when Taylor sunk a free throw. At the 1:09 mark, Taylor buried two more charity shots to hand Greensboro at 56-55 advantage, its first lead since the opening quarter.

Nine seconds later, Demopolis point guard Mike Scott answered with a pair of free throws to put DHS back up 58-57.

Taylor then responded again with two more freebies, putting Greensboro up to stay at 58-57 with 53.2 seconds left.

The game-changing play came with 21.3 seconds remaining on the clock when Greensboro’s pressure defense produced a steal that led to a wide open break and an uncontested layup to all but ice the game.

Demopolis added a pair of layups but saw Taylor come up with a key shot block on the defensive end and serve as an indefensible inbounds target on offense to put the game away.

Taylor finished the night with only seven points, all of which came from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Still, it was his impact in the game’s final frame that allowed Greensboro to seal the victory.

Scott led Demopolis with 19 points. Ashton Wilks added 15 while Terryl Ratliff and Roderick Davis each had six.

Kavoris Owens had 19 points. TaKendrick Ritford and Donald King each had seven.

The unusually long fourth quarter began at 9:01 p.m. and culminated at 10:03 p.m.

Demopolis caps its regular season Saturday night at Linden High School.