Clash of area ti­tans goes to Spring Gar­den

Cherokee County Herald - - SPORTS - By Shan­non Fa­gan

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.

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