|Suiter’s sermons draw an OC amen |
Obion Central girls’ coach Eddie Suiter continuously preaches patience.
Obion Central’s Chassidy Fussell looks for a teammate to pass to during the Lady Rebels’ 71-47 triumph over Milan.
If Tuesday’s game against Milan is any indication, those sermons are not falling on deaf ears.
Deliberately dissecting the Lady Bulldog defense for open looks with regularity, OC shot a blistering 61 percent from the field and handed Milan its first loss with an impressive 71-47 victory at Troy.
The Rebel boys made it a District 13AA sweep for the county locals in the nightcap, winning their fourth straight and for the seventh time in nine games in all with a 62-50 triumph.
The Central girls — often sacrificing a good shot for a better one — hit 27-of-44 shots in all, including a red-hot 20-of-27 (74 percent) attempts from 2-point range.
Chassidy Fussell made 10-of-13 from inside the 3-point line and all three of her free throws to finish with a game-high 26 points, while teammate Jana Roney was 7-of-9 in all shots from the field and sank 4-of-5 free throws to finish with 20 points.
“I thought the most important thing — and it’s something I stress all the time — was that we were patient,” Lady Rebel head coach Eddie Suiter said following Tuesday’s game. “Instead of settling for good shots, we worked the ball, made the extra pass and got great looks at the basket.
“We were both patient and smart.”
In Game 2, OC used a 20-6 flurry during a seven-minute third-quarter span to break open what was a tight two-point game until then.
Central scored nine straight points to begin that run, then got a pair of 3-pointers from Silvanus Lee that sandwiched a trifecta by Nick Gilliam to open a comfortable margin and win its first two games in league play for the first time since the 2001-02 campaign.
“I’m happy that we’re 7-2 right now and 2-0 in the district, but I’m not satisfied,” second-year Rebel skipper Bill Kail said. “We have to continue to play our game and do the things we do well even better, and we have to continue to stress fundamentals rather than rest on anything we’ve done so far.”
Obion Central will be back in action Friday at Munford, with the Rebel boys then playing again Saturday at Hickman County.
Central 71, Milan 47 (G)
Not only did the Lady Rebels put on an offensive clinic, they relegated Purdue-signee Chantel Poston to essentially a non-factor. Poston did finish with a team-best 19 points for the Lady Bulldogs (5-1, 1-1), but 15 were in the second half when OC never allowed its lead to dwindle below double digits.
Fussell had 15 of her game-high point output in the first half, and she and Roney combined to score all 15 of the Lady Rebs’ second-quarter points.
Central (9-1, 1-1) expanded its 31-19 halftime advantage to as many as 16 points halfway through the third stanza before Milan got as close as it would get at 50-40 in the first two minutes of the stretch run.
Old-fashioned 3-point plays by Roney and Fussell, though, a bucket by Emily McGee and a 3-pointer drained by Gentry Reedy over the next 31/2 minutes accounted for an 11-1 burst and essentially put the game on ice for OC.
“We feel like we have five good options on offense and, even if a team shuts down our first, second and third, we believe our fourth and fifth girls are better than our opponents’ fourth- and fifth-best defenders,” Suiter added.
Roney also finished with a game-high nine rebounds while Fussell had seven. McGee handed out a half-dozen assists.
Central 62, Milan 50 (B)
The Rebels (7-2, 2-0) got off to a good start with a pair of Brandon Smith trifectas and led by as many as eight in the first period before the Bulldogs battled back to take a brief one-point lead just before the half.
A running layup that ended up a 3-point play by Nick Gilliam, however, put Central up 30-28 at the intermission and for good.
OC’s aforementioned third-quarter run proved to be the ultimate difference with Lee’s second 3-pointer of the flurry with three seconds left in the period accounting for a 52-36 Rebel lead heading into the final frame.
Milan (3-3, 0-2) never got closer than 10 the rest of the way, with Cory Gibson’s trey at the 2:10 mark basically sealing the Rebel victory.
“We’re still too cautious at times when we should be attacking, and we still need to sustain our good stretches for four quarters,” Kail added. “I’m real proud both of and for our kids, though, to have gotten off to the start we have.”
Gilliam came off the bench to hit for 15 points to pace a trio of players in double figures for the victors. Lee added 14 and Gibson pitched in 12 for OC, which made eight 3-pointers in all.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.