In Jan. 8 IssueBy Derek AaronNews-Register Editor
The Russell County Lakers managed to battle back from separate nine and 10 point deficits Tuesday night to pull out a stunning 52-50 victory over visiting Greenwood at Laker Gym after trailing for the majority of the game.
The Lakers won shooting just 30 percent from the field, showing that the Laker defense, which held the Gators to just four points in the final quarter, stepped up big time.
Laker head coach Willie Feldhaus said when his team got down by 10 points he went to the “red hat,” what he calls his 2-2-1 halfcourt trap that caused some major problems for Greenwood.
The spark off the bench for Russell County was sophomore guard Nick Britt who played 11 minutes and most of the fourth quarter, who came up with three steals and garnered praise from Feldhaus after the game.
“We forced them into 23 turnovers and that was the difference,” he said. “There were two things that won the game for us. One was the “red hat” defense and the second was Nick Britt. He got his hands on numerous passes once we went into the “red hat,” … we don’t win the game without him.”
Feldhaus said his 10-3 team did not play its best game and that was due in large part to the play of the Gators, who had one of their best performances of the season but ended up falling to 3-10 on the year.
“We are very happy to get the win, make no doubt about that,” Feldhaus said. “It is good to be able to grind out and get a win.”
The Lakers’ Blake Aaron, who also had three steals, hit a key three-point shot late in the fourth quarter to cut the Gator lead to two points. Senior Martin Cross then hit two big free throws with less than 10 seconds to go to give the Lakers’ their winning advantage.
Gator Wes Johnson, who hit three three-pointers on the night, missed a potential game winner as time expired to give Russell County the win.
“Greenwood was very physical and we got very few open looks and we were contested on every shot,” Feldhaus said. “Their defense, I thought, was very good and I also thought that we missed some shots inside we usually make.”
But in the end the young Lakers pulled another close victory out, showing the will to win that Feldhaus said his team has had all season long.
Russell County was again led in scoring by sophomore Tyler Robertson, who scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half. He was followed by junior Blake Aaron with 15 points and 8th grader Nick Coffey with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Cross finished with four points while sophomore Barton Mann had three points and senior Logan Smith scored two points
The Gators, coached by Jason Stonebraker, were lead in coring by Nick Smith with 16 points and Wes Johnson with 11 points. As a team, Greenwood shot 42 percent from the field but was limited to four points in the final quarter to give the Lakers the victory.
The Lakers and Lady Lakers traveled to Burkesville for a district doubleheader Friday night against the Cumberland County Panthers. The games ended too late for this edition but results and photos can be seen in next week’s issue of the Times Journal.