Early deficits plague Tigers in Sumter trip

YORK, Ala. – Demopolis saw both its varsity squads fall into insurmountable deficits during a pair of dreadful second quarters at Class 5A, Area 7 foe Sumter Central Friday night.

Sumter Central 44, Demopolis 34 (girls)

The Demopolis Lady Tigers held a 9-6 after a largely disciplined first quarter of play and appeared poised to build on the momentum it carried from the end of the teams’ previous meeting. The success proved short lived as Sumter opened the second quarter on a 17-0 run and compiled a lead it would never lose.

The Lady Jaguars ballooned the advantage all the way to 20 before Demopolis began to fight back into the contest. A fourth quarter that featured more poise from Demopolis and saw a spark in the form of an increasingly active Abreuna Jones allowed the Lady Tigers to cut the deficit to six before Sumter ultimately put the game away.

Jones found herself heavily involved in the Demopolis comeback attempt with a second half that saw her score seven points, grab seven rebounds and record two steals. She proved the missing complement to the Demopolis backcourt, which had accounted for all of the Lady Tigers points well into the third quarter of play.

The Lady Tigers also found assistance in their efforts to get off the deck from Sumter’s uncharacteristically poor free throw shooting. The Lady Jaguars made only six of their 16 attempts on the night and left an opening for Demopolis.

Still, the Lady Jaguar defense proved a daunting foe as Sumter tallied 15 team steals to simultaneously stifle Demopolis and fuel its own offensive output.

Chardai Watkins led the way for Sumter with 15 points and six steals. Jada Watkins added 10 points and five rebounds. Amber Fitch had seven points while Kia and Mia Dent each had six. The former Dent sister had five steals in the game.

Shakesaney Bell sparked Demopolis with 12 points, four rebound and four steals. Aniya Johnson added eight points and four rebounds. Shacorie Cockrell had six points and four rebounds.

Sumter moves to 19-5 with the win, Demopolis dips to 4-8 and 0-3 in area play.

Sumter Central 61, Demopolis 48

The Jaguars relied upon their trademark pressure and high octane offensive assault to overwhelm Demopolis in the early moments Friday night. After initially appearing stunned as Sumter raced out to a quick 7-0 lead, Demopolis found its footing and battled the Jaguars to a virtual stalemate over the next 15-plus minutes of game time. The tide turned against the Tiger with 27.1 seconds remaining in the opening half.

Desmond Ward attacked the basket for Sumter and garnered a whistle for his efforts. Ward stepped to the line and drained the first of two free throws as a technical foul was called on the Demopolis bench. Ward proceeded to drain three more free throws to balloon what had been a nine-point lead to 13. He then proceeded to dribble the time off the clock and attack the basket with an up-and-under scoop to stretch the lead to 15 at half.

As the third period wore on, Demopolis saw its body language sink and the Jaguar lead expand. Seconds into the fourth quarter, Demopolis found itself down 20.

That’s when the Tigers began playing their best basketball. Fueled largely by Nelson Haskin’s energy and playmaking, Demopolis clawed its way back into the game, cutting the deficit all the way to seven in the final three minutes of the game.

The Tigers got big shots down the stretch from Haskin, Shakari Williams, Keyjun Gracie and Taylor Herelle as the whittled away at the Sumter lead. The Jaguars then lost post players Calvin Finch and Tyler Presswood to foul-outs during consecutive Demopolis possessions.

With little size remaining on the roster and the game suddenly in doubt, the Jaguars put the ball in the hands of Ward. The senior points guard would help ice the victory with two field goals and a pair of late made free throws for the win.

Ward paced all scorers with 20 points while Jacorie Turnipseed added 15 points. Presswood finished the night with 12 points and nine rebounds. Kedrick Turnipseed had 10 points for the Jaguars.

Herelle had 14 points and five rebounds for the Tigers. Haskin finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks, two assists and three steals in an all-around effort.

Sumter moves to 25-3 with the win while Demopolis falls to 15-7.