The Gold team lost a heartbreaker at the buzzer to the Richmond Ninth Grade Academy Green team, and then were soundly defeated by Scotland County. On Thursday, the Gold team finally got back to its winning ways with a resounding 74-49 victory over Anson County.
“After the Scotland game, we took the approach to practice that we were going to have some fun,” Gold team coach Derrick Watkins. “I think we played like that in this game.”
The contest wasn’t delightful for the Bearcats, which trailed 24-13 after the first quarter and managed to cut the deficit to single digits once the rest of the way.
“We started off slow, and I tried to tell the guys that the game begins when the ball is thrown in the air,” Bearcats coach Ernest Mangum said. “We put ourselves in position to have to play catch-up. Even when we closed the deficit, it took a lot out of us. Also, they outrebounded us and we committed too many turnovers. I thought the effort was better after the first quarter.”
The Gold team used a 11-0 burst in the opening period to take control of the contest. Igniting Richmond’s offense was Tuquan McDonald, who scored 12 of his game-high 22 points in the first quarter. He connected on three 3-pointers.
Watkins said he told McDonald at practice to attack the basket, and McDonald was able to do that with regularity.
“I felt the person who was guarding me that I could beat him off the dribble,” McDonald said. “As a team, we came into this game a little more focused, listened to what our coach wanted us to do and ran our plays right.”
Trey Little scored 10 of his 19 points in the first half to help the Gold team extend the advantage to 38-24 at halftime.
“I’m proud of the way Trey played in the paint,” Watkins said. “We were down one of our big men, but Trey played well around the basket.”
In losses to the Green team and Scotland, Watkins indicated how his squad had troubled handling pressure.
Anson went to a full-court trap in the second half, but the Gold team was able to break the press and resulted in several uncontested layups.
“A lot of times in ninth grade ball, once you reverse the ball once, you usually beat the press,” Watkins said. “Tuquan is a good dribbler. He was able to get past them before they could trap him and made the right pass to help us beat it.
“Our guys did a good job of cutting to the basket, and finishing plays off the pass. I thought the guys made the extra pass for teammates to get better looks. We played unselfish basketball. I hope we keep playing that way for rest of the season.”
Contact sports reporter Corey Davis at 997-3111, ext. 44; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org