The Arab varsity boys basketball team bounced back from a double-overtime loss to Scottsboro to grab a key 6A, Area 15 win against Fort Payne.
• VARSITY BOYS
Arab 62, Ft. Payne 60
This time, the down-to-the-wire finish belonged to the Knights.
After leading 40-32 in a relatively comfortable first half, Arab had a few misfires in the second half while the Wildcats clawed their way back into the game. But, the Knights were able to make clutch plays late, including back-to-back 3’s from James Ed Johnson, to get the win. Darian Lusk hit the decisive two free throws with 10 seconds to go that proved to be the difference when Fort Payne’s last-second shot was just off the rim.
“We competed the whole game, but this time we got the possessions, the rebounds and the free throws at the end we’ve been missing,” said coach Justin Jonus. “We really didn’t shoot great but different guys stepped up at different times for us.
“To come here and win is a big deal.”
Once again, Lusk came up big for the Knights in numerous categories and finished with 17 points. Ed Johnson had 15 and Will Cavender 12.
“We did a great job at the top. I thought Will had another good game,” said Jonus. Spencer Strickland had nine points and James Reynoso had seven.
“That was huge. We need that from our big guys,” said Jonus.
The win keeps Arab in the hunt in the area race.
“I heard some good things from the bench tonight, too. Our guys are on each other in a good way. We’re not about making excuses, we’re about getting better,” said Jonus.
• JV BOYS
Arab 62, Ft. Payne 43
It was close early, but Arab began to establish a nice lead in the second to lead 27-14 at the half.
“We just slowly, methodically pulled away,” said coach Brad Kitchens. “It was certainly nice to get back in the win column but I have to say, Owen really had a great game for us tonight.”
Owen Thomas had 21 points for Arab, Ethan Thomas had 14, Jonathan England 11 and Tre Wilks eight.
• 9TH GRADE BOYS
Ft. Payne 75, Arab 46
It wasn’t so much what Arab didn’t do but what Fort. Payne was doing. The Wildcats were red hot the better part of the game and hit 13 3-pointers, nine of them in the first half.
“They were unconscious. If they put it up it went in,” said coach Jonathan Embry.
David Crabtree had eight points and Brody Enochs had six for Arab. Dylan Benefield, Ryan King, Austin Dyson and Cameron Croes had five each.
• VARSITY GIRLS
Ft. Payne 48, Arab 36
A tough first half kept the Lady Knights in check, but they came very close to making a game of it in the second half before the Wildcats pulled away again at the end.
Fort Payne outscored the Knights 10-2 in the second quarter and had a 20-9 lead at halftime.
“When it’s all said and done, it’s still comes down to poor shooting,” said coach Jessica Thompson. “We did a lot of good things tonight and we played much better the second half with our energy and effort, but we’re letting a few mistakes get in our head.”
Thompson had high marks for Reagan Malone, who had one of her best performances of the year with 16 points.
“It wasn’t just the score. She does a great job communicating on defense. In the second quarter, she blocked a shot, got the ball, dribbled down the court on a fast break, missed the shot, got her own rebound, goes up and converts for two. She plays hard and we need all four people around her to play that hard every single possession,” she said.
Bryleigh Bodine and Sydney Ferguson had eight points each.
• JV GIRLS
Arab 30, Ft. Payne 21
Lily Livingston had 11 points and Maggie Chastain seven in the win.
“It was a good game for us,” said coach Carlie Henderson. “Lily certainly had some big moments, but I was also very proud of the three girls we brought up from the eighth grade team.” she said.
With several players moved up to the varsity, Henderson needed some help.
“We were without one of our guards and Ava Kinney, Ava Wooten and Maleah Wooten came in and played really well. It was like they had been playing with us all along,” she said.