Wilson jumper puts Tigers over Pats in thriller

LINDEN — Tommy Wilson connected on a jumper with 7.6 seconds left to propel Demopolis (14-11) to a 69-67 win over rival Linden (20-2) Friday night and guarantee the Tigers a winning season just a year after a 7-18 campaign.

“That’s huge. That’s a big win,” Demopolis head coach Rodney Jackson said. “I don’t think we executed well. We didn’t play our best ball, but we kept fighting and got the win.”

Wilson’s jumper came just six seconds after Shauka Reese drove to the hole for Linden, converting a layup that knotted the game at 67 and erased the last remnant of Demopolis’ former seven-point advantage fourth quarter advantage.

Following Reese’s biggest bucket of the night, Demopolis took a timeout to draw up its game plan.

“We wanted Tommy to have the ball to break them down and that’s what he did,” Jackson said. “Tommy hit a big shot there at the end.”

While Demopolis go what it wanted coming out of its timeout call, Linden hoped for much of the same fate as it called for a break in the action following Wilson’s dagger.

“We wanted a wide open shot or a rebound for a put-back,” Linden coach Roosevelt Moore said. “We got both of them actually.”

Linden missed its open look at a triple and failed to get the put-back opportunity after mishandling the rebound.

“They played hard and made some big shots that kept them in the game,” Moore said. “They kept making big shot after big shot.”

The first of those big shots came with just under a minute to go in the second quarter when D.J. Howell drilled a three to give Demopolis its first lead of the game at 35-34. Seconds later, Roderick Davis sniped a long-distance shot of his own to push the advantage to 38-34.

Imoras Agee, who sat most of the first half in foul trouble, connected on his first field goal of the game at the second quarter buzzer, knocking down a deep three to cut the deficit to 38-37. the buzzer-beater was the second of its kind on the night for Linden as Reese rattled in a long three at the first quarter horn to give Linden a 20-12 advantage.

But Demopolis whittled away at the Linden lead throughout the second quarter, hanging 26 points on the board to snag the halftime lead and then building on the advantage in the third quarter with a 15-11 run.

The Tigers held that lead until 1:26 to go in the contest when Reese proved true on a pair of free throws to put Linden up 65-64.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Cortez Lewis answered at the other end with a jumper to put Demopolis back up 66-65. With 26.3 seconds to play, Rashad Lynch picked a Patriot pocket and drove to tin, missing the layup opportunity before knocking down a free throw to give DHS the two-point lead at 67-65.

Lynch had a team high 15 points for Demopolis while playing significant minutes off the bench for the Tigers Friday as Wilson and Lewis struggled with foul trouble early.

He set the pace for a balanced attack that saw five Tigers score in double figures on the night.

“They just play together,” Jackson said of his team. “That’s what we’ve been teaching. We’ve been talking family and being a team and they’re buying in.”

Wilson added 13 points and five assists for the Tigers while Davis finished with 13 points and five rebounds. Lewis chipped in 10 points and 11 boards. Howell also had 10 points on the night.

Reese led all scorers with 31 points. Nicholas Rogers had 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench for Linden while Agee had 14 points and five boards.

The result hands Demopolis its fifth straight win while snapping a 14-game win streak for Linden. The Tigers will enter as  the No. 2 seed in the Class 5A, Area 6 tournament next Friday when they challenge No. 3 seed Greenville at 6 p.m.

Linden will host the Class 1A, Area 4 draw next Friday, hosting the winner of Monday’s play-in game between No. 4 seed John Essex and No. 5 seed A.L. Johnson.