Sumter Central wasted no time taking control of the contest Friday night as the No. 3 team in Class 5A rolled to a 52-35 road win over Demopolis.
The Tigers had no answer for the Jaguars’ defensive set in the game’s first eight minutes as they limped to a 14-1 deficit through the one quarter of play.
“The pressure had us tweaking a little bit. The guys, they didn’t respond to the pressure like we had practiced. We knew they were going to come out and do a little different, so we tried to do a little different on our end. None of my big guys got into a rhythm at all. The guards were way (up high). We never could get into our sets like we wanted to,” Demopolis coach Ashley Allen said. “We can’t start slow. We can start slow on certain teams, but teams like this who are fast-paced like this, we can’t start slow. I knew if we did, we were going to be in trouble. We needed something like this early.”
The Tigers turned up the intensity in the second quarter but never found themselves able to claw out of the early hole. Demopolis got its first points from the field with 7:49 to go in the second quarter when Taylor Herelle dished to Shakari Williams for a dunk that set the score at 14-3. By the time the clock showed four minutes remaining until half, Sumter had worked the advantage to 19 points. Greg Brunson stepped in front of an ill-fated Demopolis pass just inches from his own baseline and went the distance for a layup to make it 30-11 and force a Demopolis timeout.
At halftime, Demopolis was 6 of 16 from the floor while Sumter was shooting 50 percent having hit 13 of 26 shots. Sumter also held a decisive rebounding advantage with 23 boards as compared to 13 from Demopolis.
With foul trouble a problem for the Tigers all night, DHS found its scoring boost from Sumter Central transfer Melvin Childers.
“He definitely stepped up. He took is personally. He takes this team personally regardless,” Allen said.
The Tigers cut the deficit to 11 with 5:26 to go in the third quarter and appeared to have wrested away some momentum before a technical foul on the home bench deflated the gymnasium. The Tigers would pick up a second tech in the fourth quarter but the outcome was largely solidified as Sumter cashed in the free throws to move the lead to 50-31 with 4:12 to play.
“We came out in the second half, changed it up a little bit, started to get the ball where we wanted to to get some open shots. They just weren’t falling.”
Sumter made 19 of 48 shots from the floor in the contest while committing 17 turnovers. But the defensive effort of the Jaguars was too much for Demopolis to overcome. The Jags tallied 13 steals as a team and helped force 24 Demopolis turnovers. The Tigers shooting woes became further compounded as they proved unable to get a shot off on a number of possessions including five trips down the floor that ended in an offensive foul. Demopolis shot 13 of 28 from the floor on the night.
Childers led all scorers with 12 points. Williams added six for Demopolis. Nelson Haskin amassed a double-double with 11 rebounds and 11 blocked shots.
“He changes the outcome. You’re going to have trouble trying to get some easy baskets, easy layups in the paint because Nelson is coming and he’s going to swat it,” Allen said. “It makes you have to shoot from the outside, which helps a lot because I can play the zone a little bit. If you’re not hitting the shots, we can stay in it. Tonight, they weren’t really hitting the shots like they were in Sumter but we still wanted to put pressure on the ball, get a couple of turnovers and just get a spark.”
Jacorey Turnipseed led Sumter with 12 points to go along with three assists and three steals. Ladarius Carter added 10 points and six rebounds. Tyler Presswood had a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds.
Demopolis (6-9, 0-3) is set to host Keith Monday. Sumter-Central (17-3, 3-0) travels to Midfield Saturday.