Demopolis (5-8, 0-2) was on the verge of a signature win Tuesday night after leading Central-Tuscaloosa for three quarters of play. That all changed in the fourth quarter as the Falcon depth showed itself and the Tigers wilted en route to a 51-44 loss.
“We just lost our composure. I told them we’ve got to execute the game plan. When we executed the game plan, it worked out. We’ve got to change that mentality of trying to do what we want to do and not playing our brand of basketball,” Demopolis coach Ashley Allen said. “I’ve put the fundamentals in. I’ve put the game plan in and we’ve got to stick to it. We got a little bit off toward the end of the game and this is what happens.”
Demopolis never trailed through the game’s first 24 minutes of play and held a 36-34 lead entering the fourth period. Central notched the first three points of the frame to take its first lead of the night. With 6:26 to play, Ladarius Jones stole a Tiger pass and took it the length of the floor connect on a layup despite hard contact. He then converted the And-1 opportunity to push the lead to 40-36 and the Falcons scarcely looked back.
Jalen Richey moved the lead to five with 2:24 to play when he converted an And-1 scenario to move the score to 49-44. Richey added a pair of late free throws to set the final margin.
The Tigers used their disruptive defense to create offense early, carrying a narrow lead 22-20 lead into half. Despite a run that stretched the advantage to eight in the third quarter, Demopolis began to show signs of wear as Central cut the deficit back to two by the end of the frame.
“I knew we were going to get tired because of the up tempo and what we try to do on defense,” Allen said. “We only rotate about eight or nine in. I tried to slow it down and do a high-low game with Shakari and Nelson. When we did it, it worked. It went foul toward the end because we did not stick to the game plan.”
Central converted an free throw opportunities at an impressive clip, hitting 11 of 12 shots from the stripe. Demopolis countered by making 12 of 17 free throws.
While the Falcons did not have a player reach double figures, they did see nine different players score in the contest to move to 9-13 overall. Jalen Richey and Charles Leatherwood each scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds for Central. Ky’Andre Jackson and Jhalen Caddell had eight points. Bryant Lancaster added six points and four rebounds. All 51 of Central’s points came from inside the arc.
Shakari Williams led Demopolis with 18 points and four rebounds. Nelson Haskin added nine points, nine rebounds, six blocked and three steals in the effort. Melvin Childers contributed eight points and five rebounds.
Demopolis is set to host Choctaw County Thursday night before welcoming Sumter Central in Friday evening.