Wetumpka races past Pelham to AHSAA regionals; wins 74-67Published 10:31pm Friday, February 14, 2014
As Wetumpka senior guard De’Arris Buycks’ lengthy, buzzer beating three-pointer sailed through the net to conclude the third period to give the Indians its first lead, 50-48, since the first quarter over Pelham, the momentum fell to their side.
The Panthers (22-8) clawed back from down 10 in the final quarter to a 68-67 deficit, but Wetumpka (20-5) held on to win the sub-regional contest 74-67 to advance to the AHSAA Regional tournament at Alabama State University.
“When it left my hand, I knew it was going in,” Buycks said of his momentum-shifting shot.
“These guys, they practice that all the time,” Indians head coach Ed Rogers of Buycks’ buzzer beater. “And it kills me as a coach, I tell them to shoot around, and the first thing they want to go do is shoot buzzer beaters. Everything went in our favor today. Maybe they need to practice that some more.”
Before the prayer went in, Pelham led the entire second period, took a 33-29 lead into halftime and sustained control for most of the third. The Panthers found its largest advantage after Zach Allison drained a three-pointer with 6:57 to go before the half. The point guard’s 12 first half point led all scorers, with Pelham’s second leading scorer, Alex Reese, recording seven.
In scouting reports, Rogers knew the point guard posed a serious threat. While they prepared for him leading up to the sub-regional matchup, he reiterated their gameplan at the break.
“I told the guys, don’t let one person beat you,” Rogers said. “I talked to the coaches of Thompson and Spain Park and they said you can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him. If you contain him, nobody will shoot the ball. And it proved true.”
Wetumpka held Allison to two points in the third period, as they methodically loosened the Panthers’ grip.
“They did a really good job of trying to deny him the ball and then when he did get it, they were running double teams at him,” Pelham head coach Joel Floyd said. “They did a good job of scrambling out of that stuff. Typically when you double team, it leaves somebody else open, but credit to them they did a terrific job of scrambling and causing some turnovers.”
After a game-tying basket to open the fourth from PHS, Buycks’ three-pointer from the top of the key gave Wetumpka the eventual game-winning lead, 53-50, with 7:26 remaining. With 3:14 left, the Indians worked their lead up to 10, 66-56, but Pelham was done yet. They pieced together an 11-2 run over the 1:33 pull within one. But WHS diffused the threat, ending the game on a 7-0 run.
“We still got to take care of the ball at the end,” Rogers said. “We let a 10-point lead get away down to one. But we still were able to focus and get a win.
“The guys have been hungry. We practiced well, we prepared well. We’re just guys who refuse to lose right now.”
Rodreka Jones led all scorers with 31. Buycks added 14, while Demarcus Hutcinson and Jaleel Beeman had 11 and 10 respectively for WHS. Allison finished with 19 for the Panthers.
The Indians advance to face Carver-Montgomery at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Alabama State.