Central’s intensity too hot for Devils

Central’s intensity too hot for Devils
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Be it the pressure of the first game of the season or that of the Obion Central defense, both South Fulton teams wilted under the heat.
The Rebels swept a year-opening Hall of Champions doubleheader from SF Tuesday night in Troy, the girls’ game a blowout 84-51 and the nightcap a 77-66 Central triumph.
OC forced a bushel basket of turnovers in both games, a youthful Devilette squad that was missing two of its top three players due to academic suspensions overwhelmed by runs of 16 unanswered Lady Rebels points in the first half and a 17-0 run to start the third quarter.
Macy Wright led a parade of five double-digit scorers for the victors with 22 points, while South Fulton’s Taleeah Cross matched Wright’s output but had little help as none of her teammates scored more than eight.
In the boys’ game, Obion Central harassed the Redmen into 27 turnovers and outscored the visitors 47-28 over the middle two periods after trailing by as many as 10 points in the first stanza.
Much like their girl counterparts, the Rebel scoring was evenly spread with Bryan Morris hitting for a team-best 18 as one of a quartet of twin-figure point makers. SF’s Jordan Davis had 26 to lead all scorers.
The two Obion County programs will meet again in a week at South Fulton, but not before each plays a second Hall of Champions game later this week.
The Red Devils host Bruceton on Friday, while OC plays host to its other intra-county rival, Union City, on Saturday.
Central 81, SF 54 (G)
Wright had 18 of her points in the first half and canned a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to expand OC’s lead to 53-30.
Cross went end-to-end to cap a run of nine straight South Fulton points late in the opening stanza, but the Lady Rebels fueled a pair of blitzes with their fullcourt pressure and also dominated in both rebound and inside play.
The Devilettes, who were missing Kalon Martin and Laken Haley — two-year starters who are behind with their classroom work — contributed to their own demise by missing 10 first-half free throws while committing 15 floor mistakes.
“I really liked the speed at which the game was played,” Obion Central head coach Lyle LaRue said afterward. “We’re not very good defensively right now, but if we can force tempo and quick shots, we’ll at least get the ball back.
“I think one of the biggest differences was that when we got in foul trouble, we replaced those kids with juniors who had experience. When South Fulton got in foul trouble, they had to go with freshmen. And we took advantage of that with our pressure.”
On the other bench, SF skipper Curt Lee had little good to say about his team’s first outing of 2011-12.
“We can’t defend around the basket, we can’t rebound, and when you couple that with the fact we can’t run the court fast and we didn’t handle the ball well, you see what we got tonight,” he said.
Paige Hicks followed Wright on the OC scoring list with 18 points, while Brooke Jennings added 14, Whitney Dodd tallied 11 and Brandi Goodman chipped in with 10.
Central 77, SF 66 (B)
A 14-2 burst to open the second half after the Rebels had trailed by double-digits in the first quarter broke open a tight game.
The Red Devils took a 31-29 lead on a trey by Clint Wells late in the second period and held a slim 35-33 intermission before Obion Central’s physical fullcourt pressure forced repeated turnovers that led to transition opportunities.
Shyheim Slayton hit two free throws and a deuce to open the gap to 55-39 halfway through the third quarter and the difference was never smaller than 10 points again.
Morris scored just before the stretch run and the margin was as big as 20 three minutes into the final frame and never in doubt thereafter.
“Turning the ball over 27 times was the big thing, but the fact that it was seniors several of those times really has me concerned,” South Fulton coach Wes Miller said. “Obion’s pressure and the fact they beat us to every loose ball and out-played and out-coached us the rest of the night was easy to see.”
Central mentor Bill Kail was understandably pleased with his team’s initial outing of the year.
“I have the luxury of subbing at every position and not having a lot of drop-off this year, and that means the kids can go as hard as they can, and we can get someone else in when they get tired and keep up the intensity on defense,” he said. “I’ve said in the preseason that this bunch has the best team chemistry that I’ve had in a while, and they’re very unselfish and will find the open man.
“Obviously, I hope that continues.”
Zach King gave OC a nice lift with 12 points and 13 rebounds, while Morris made his stat line a double-double with 10 caroms. Slayton and Coleman Dunn, who made a couple of threes when the Rebels trailed early, finished with 15 and 11 markers, respectively.
Game note: A special ribbon was placed on the usual frontcourt seat of the Rebel sideline in memory of Norma Huey, a longtime supporter of the program and teacher at the school. Published in The Messenger 11.16.11

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