Clash of area titans goes to Spring Garden
Sports Editor exposed to that several times, but we’ve gotten tougher and tougher, and we didn’t break. I thought we showed we’re a little more experienced finally. We knew how to handle that. We didn’t scoreboard watch. We just played basketball and made them do some things we wanted to do down the stretch.”
Ah, yes. The stretch run.
Once again, the Tigers made a push to make the Panthers sweat things out, whittling their lead down to two at 40-38 on a basket by Davion Fife with just under five minutes to play.
But Spring Garden sophomore guard and Austin’s son Riley Austin put things on his shoulders and closed out the game. He scored nine of his team-high 18 points in the game’s final three minutes.
The younger Austin was also a presence under the boards. He grabbed 10 rebounds and also dished out three assists.
“I was a point guard. He’s a point guard, and I try to groom all of my point guards so when the game gets like that, we can put it in their hands and take over,” Coach Austin said. “That’s the first time as a point guard in his career that he sealed the deal for us. He played a little sloppy in the first half, but he stuck with his training, stuck with his discipline and it fell where he could be in charge.
“His teammates did a good job of getting it to that point where he could do that, but that’s what I expect out of all my point guards – the Paige Andersons, the Will Iveys. I put it in their hands when it gets into that situation, and I thought he did a great job tonight. I’m proud of how he handled things.”
Cedar Bluff coach Joe Carpenter said Austin “dictated where it went” down the stretch.
“He’s a point guard and that’s what he’s supposed to do,” Carpenter said. “As long as the ball was in his hands, I’m sure Coach Austin felt pretty good about the game at that point. He’s a great point guard, one of the best in this part of the state.”
Riley Austin wasn’t the only Panther to have a big game. Draevan Bowman connected on four treys and finished with 14 points. Dylan Rogers added 11 points, four boards and a pair of assists. Joe Rogers finished with six points and three steals.
“They played hard and they wanted it more than we did,” Carpenter said. “They handled the ball well. They took it to the goal, and we didn’t step up to take them out of the lane. They hit layups, and we didn’t play very good defense the whole night.”
Fife led Cedar Bluff with 18 points. Rashawn Woods added 10 points. Croft finished with five points.
SPRING GARDEN – Spring Garden senior center Tykeah Rogers continued to bring the thunder inside the paint, while guards Savannah Dempsey and Madison Sides provided the lightning from the outside to lead the Class 1A, No. 6 Lady Panthers to a 57-41 Area 13 basketball victory over visiting Cedar Bluff on Friday.
Rogers posted 20 points, 15 rebounds and three assists. Dempsey delivered 18 points, including four treys. Sides contributed 15 points, eight boards and three assists for Spring Garden (12-4, 5-0).
“You have to play to your strengths, and they’re most definitely our strengths right now,” Austin said. “Savannah is turning into a really solid player for us. She did her job and did it pretty well. I was a little disappointed in Madison in the first half because of turnovers, but they hit enough (shots) to loosen Tookie (Rogers) up and she could go to work.”
Spring Garden led at each of the quarter breaks: 14-10 after one, 29-20 at halftime, and 43-33 after three.
But things were much closer as the final score indicated.
As Austin mentioned, turnovers helped keep No. 10 Cedar Bluff (10-4, 2-1) within striking distance.
“We had 10 in the first quarter, 18 at halftime, and 28 for the game,” Austin said. “I know that’s what they (Cedar Bluff) try to create, but a lot of it was situations where we were doing it to ourselves. We know we’ve got to get to work on that part of it and get better, but that’s part of playing. I sure hope we don’t have 28 turnovers in a game the rest of the year. I hope we can get that fixed real quick.”
Cedar Bluff cut the Lady Panther lead to 29-22 with 7:31 left in the third quarter on a basket by Delilah Price and 43-36 with 7:07 left in the fourth on a basket by Kiana Dobbins.
However, the Lady Tigers could get no closer.
“We dug ourselves in a hole, but I’m proud of our girls. They fought hard,” Carpenter said. “We played, for the most part, the way we wanted to play. We had to make some adjustments at halftime, but in the long run, what it boils down to was we didn’t hit enough free throws and we missed some putbacks. Those were big.”
Price and Alexis Smith led the Lady Tigers with 12 points apiece. Lexi Moten finished with five points.
Spring Garden’s Dylan Rogers soars past a pair of Cedar Bluff defenders on his way to the basket on Friday night.