DJ Jamerson

Caleb Turrentine / The Herald Stanhope Elmore’s DJ Jamerson (4) attempts a floater against Park Crossing.

Stanhope Elmore knew things were not going to be easy when it hosted Park Crossing on Monday night. The Mustangs already had a 29-point loss to the Thunderbirds under their belt but they wanted to see a much different result in the second boys basketball meeting.

Park Crossing got a better challenge from the Mustangs this time but it still was not enough as the Thunderbirds led for the final 26:22 and defeated Stanhope Elmore, 83-60. The Mustangs (5-10) had the deficit cut to just seven points with just over six minutes remaining but Park Crossing finished the game on a 20-4 run to seal the win.

“We didn’t shoot it that well in the fourth quarter and we turned the ball over too much,” Stanhope Elmore coach Terry Hardy said. “We didn’t get a lot of good looks and we gave up some easy stuff. The fourth quarter just got away from us.”

Hardy pointed to several factors that allowed Park Crossing to pull away late but he boiled it down to a lack of teamwork on the offensive end. Stanhope Elmore finished with just seven assists on 23 made shots while turning the ball over 19 times, including 12 in the second half.

“I think everyone was looking for that big game tonight,” Hardy said. “We weren’t making the extra pass and we were going 1-on-5 and not finishing. We got too selfish and I don’t know where that came from.”

Many of those turnovers turned into points for the Thunderbirds. Park Crossing also found easy ways to score by winning the battle on the boards as they racked up 16 second-chance points.

Stanhope Elmore could not respond and found it difficult to create offense outside the paint. The Mustangs made just two 3-pointers on 18 attempts and Hardy said he has been trying to warn his guys about living beyond the arc because when the shots are not falling, that is what will happen.

“I didn’t think we played that hard,” Hardy said. “We came out a little stale and didn’t have that fire in us. We need to have some juice with the way we play.”

Stanhope Elmore’s DJ Jamerson showed some of that juice early, scoring 16 of his team-high 20 points in the first half. However, he was not as involved in the offense in the second half as the Mustangs struggled to get the ball inside.

“He is a big part of our success,” Hardy said. “He’s our only consistent scorer and he’s really the only one that did score in that first half. We have to understand that so when he’s going, we need to feed him and the rest of us can feed off of him.”

Sed Hall helped keep the Mustangs close through the third quarter. Hall finished with 17 points to go along with five assists.

Park Crossing was led by Jeremias Williams who knocked four 3-pointers and scored 32 points. Hardy said it was good for the Mustangs to get a strong challenge from Williams and the Thunderbirds as they look to prepare to make a run to gain some momentum before the postseason.

“It’s always good to play that kind of competition this late in the season,” Hardy said. “We were right there in it but you just have to continue to fight and find a way to finish. The small things killed us (Monday night).”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.