Demopolis wins Area 6 title in barnburner with Sumter

photo 2The Demopolis High Lady Tigers used a late bucket from Ivery Moore to pull off a 31-30 win in the Class 5A, Area 6 championship game Friday night.

“It’s hard to beat a team four times in a row throughout the year. Each time we played them, they just got better,” Demopolis coach Tony Pittman said of the challenge his team faced.

After a lackluster opening to the game in which the Lady Tigers failed to score in the first quarter and trailed 10-3 at half, Demopolis opened up its offense with a 15-point third period buoyed by suddenly hot shooting from deep.

“I saw a basketball team that was really pressing. They came out and they hit us in the mouth. They played extremely well. They threw the 1-3-1 on us. We were not expecting that and it threw us out of rhythm a little bit. Scoring three points in a half, that really shocked my basketball team,” Pittman said. “I went in at halftime and I guess they just expected me to jump on them. But I told them, ‘I want you to just sit down, just breathe and calm down. They threw everything they could possibly throw at us and they only scored 10 points.’”

Demopolis carried an 18-17 after three quarters before the game really found its pace. The fourth quarter saw nine lead changes, including three in the final 40 seconds.

“I knew all we had to do was see the ball go through the basket,” Demopolis guard Dee Dee White said. “Once we saw the ball go through the basket, I knew every one of my teammates could make a basket.”

With 3:30 to play, Sarabi Jemison connected on a drive to put Sumter up 22-21. Only 18 seconds later, White went catch and shoot from three-point range off a Sylvia Clayton pass to put the Lady Tigers up 24-22.

“She knows when to dish it off. She knows when her players are going to get hot,” White said of the setup skills Clayton put on display in the game’s crucial moments. “I knew I had to knock those threes down to get us going offensively.”

20150206 DHS vs Sumter Central-9703“Every game we played them, they seemed to get to me. I knew tonight was an important night, so I knew to just drive in, be effective more and dish the ball off,” Clayton said. “The front man on that defense is nothing to me. I break that man on defense, we’re in there.”

Sumter responded quickly when Daja Hale hit a turnaround to tie the game before Keona May it a pair of free throws to put Sumter up 26-24 with 2:19 to play.

Clayton put her team back on top with 2:08 to go when she took an on-rhythm triple off a pass from White to hand Demopolis the 27-26 lead.

Jemison brought her team back again at the 1:50 mark with a jumper that gave Sumter the 28-27 lead.

Sumter had an opportunity to stretch that lead with 47 seconds to play when it could not cash in on a one-and-one opportunity at the free throw line, capping a horrific night at the charity stripe in which the team when 4-for-16.

With 39.4 seconds remaining, Moore made good on a pair of free throws to give Demopolis the 29-28 advantage.

“As she was going to the free throw line, I just said, ‘Big players make big shots. It’s your time.’ She stepped up and she knocked them down,” Pittman said.

Sumter would not be denied, however, as Treionna Hudson drove to the basket for a layup to give her team the 30-29 lead.

“They hit the shot and I was debating whether I should call timeout but we were in a flow,” Pittman said. “That game was in an even flow.”

With 9.6 seconds left on the clock, Moore hit her only shot from the floor when she drove into the teeth of the Sumter defense for a layup.

“As I was going in, I was expecting a foul, but the game-winning shot wasn’t a foul,” Moore said.

Sumter’s final opportunity to answer ended with 2.3 seconds left when the officials called a traveling violation.

20150206 DHS vs Sumter Central-9900Following her late game heroics, Moore had little to say about her own performance, instead touting Pittman patriarchal presence and tenacious tutelage as being key for her in the biggest moments.

“I’ve been with Pittman since my eighth grade year. Growing up with him, he taught me to be better. He fusses at me and everything,” Moore said. “Growing up with him is like having a father because my father hasn’t been there. Since my eighth grade year, I have gotten better.”

Sumter held a 34-25 rebounding advantage in the game and saw its free throws woes matched by a Demopolis squad that connected on only 6 of 18 shots.

Jemison led all scorers with 15 points to go along with eight rebounds. White led Demopolis with 10 points and three steals. Courtney Hill had eight points in the game. Moore scored five of her seven points from the free throw line and grabbed 10 rebounds.

The Lady Tigers advance to Monday where they are set to host Beauregard in the sub-regional round. Sumter travels to face Booker T. Washington in sub-regional play.

As the Lady Tigers approach their next goal, Pittman cites chemistry and character as the real difference makers in a season that has already seen 22 wins.

“This team has character. This team has played together for two, sometimes three years and each year you can see them grow up and get better and better,” Pittman said. “This team here has a desire to win. I don’t care what I do. I don’t care how hard I push them. It’s almost like they want more and more.”

“We don’t have attitudes. We come together. We talk to each other. We’ve been around each other for a long time,” White said. “We played ball when we were little, so we know each other’s games. It’s easy to play together.”

The Lady Tigers are set to tip Monday at 6 p.m.

Ivery Moore goes up for the winning bucket against Sumter Central.

Ivery Moore goes up for the winning bucket against Sumter Central.