A change of strategy in overtime helped the Arab varsity boys basketball team win at Marshall County rival Boaz in overtime on Monday, 85-78.
After jumping out to an early 20-12 lead, Arab had to settle for a two-point edge at the end of the first quarter. After that, it was tied at every break: 39-all at the half, 60-all at the end of three quarters and 73-all at the end of regulation.
As the Pirates were making big 3-pointers when they needed them, Arab was struggling in that department so, the Knights went to the rim in the overtime.
“That was our goal to get there,” said coach Justin Jonus. “You put a lot of pressure on the defender when you keep doing that.
“We fouled out 13 (Gael Vazquez) at the end and that was huge.”
Jonus gave credit to the Pirate defense for holding the Knights in check shooting outside, but credited his team for shifting gears.
“I think going into the overtime that was the key because they took a lot away tonight. But, we take what the defense gives us and that’s what makes us a versatile team,” Jonus said.
One of the big stories in the offensive shift was James Ed Johnson who led Arab with 26 points. Forced to drive inside much of the second half, Johnson hit 10 of 13 free throws. Darian Lusk had 23.
“Darian is so versatile and so important to us,” Jonus said. “We’ve had guys like that in the past and now he’s that guy. He can rebound, he can push it, he can guard the post, he can guard a guard, play inside, set a screen, whatever. He lives it.”
James Reynoso had 13 points.
“James was astronomical tonight,” said Jonus. “He did so many big things for us. I give him so much credit for our success but that was a special night for him.”
Dakota NeSmith added seven for the Knights (9-8), who will host Buckhorn tonight.
• JV BOYS
Boaz 47, Arab 42
A tight game early, Boaz managed a five-point lead by halftime but the Knights continued to chip away and take the lead with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
“We had some late turnovers against their press but they hit a 3 after an offensive rebound to go up four and that kept us from having a chance to win,” said coach Brad Kitchens.
Case Couch had 14 points and Tre Wilks 12 in the loss.
“We know what we’ve got to work on but the guys gave great effort. Boaz has a good team and I thought we played very hard tonight,” Kitchens said.
• 9TH GRADE BOYS
Arab 56, Boaz 38
The freshmen led all the way after jumping out to a 40-21 lead, but the big story was Austin Dyson, who made six 3-pointers in the first half alone.
“They were playing a zone that left us with some good looks for the 3 and Austin knocked them down,” said coach Jonathan Embry.
Dyson, who had 20 points in the first half, finished with 27. He was followed by Dylan Benefield, who had eight. Ryan King had seven and Dylan Morrow five.
As impressive as Dyson’s performance was, Arab’s defense set the tone for the game.
“We forced some turnovers with our press early and that really got things going for us,” said Embry.
• VARSITY GIRLS
Boaz 53 Arab 41
Considering her extremely young lineup, coach Jessica Thompson is pleased with her team’s progress.
“No one ever likes to lose, but I was very proud of how hard the girls played against a good Boaz team,” she said. “We did a really good job on defense, got some steals and hit some big shots tonight.”
With Arab down 42-30 at the end of the third quarter, Laney Kelley almost single handedly turned the game around with four straight steals that allowed the Knights to cut the lead to 42-37. And, they did that with several players in foul trouble.
“Yeah, that took of us out of what we wanted to do offensively and defensively; it really changed our game plan,” said Thompson. “Then we fouled and gave them five or six shots at the end, so despite the score, we saw some improvement tonight.”
Senior Reagan Malone had a good night with 15 points.
“Reagan did a good job driving to the rim tonight,” said Thompson.
Sydney Ferguson and Kate Collins had eight points each, and Bryleigh Bodine had seven.
The girls are at Grissom tonight.
• JV GIRLS
Boaz 43, Arab 23
The story on this game is simple enough.
“We had a bad first quarter,” said coach Carlie Henderson. “We had a few turnovers and scored only one point.”
The result was a 22-1 lead after one period for the Pirates.
“After that, we played a pretty good game and held our own,” she said.
Lily Livingston had 12 points and Lexi Mann five for Arab.