Arab’s varsity boys basketball team openead Class 6A, Area 15 play with a win over Fort Payne on Tuesday but the Lady Knights weren’t quite as fortunate.

• BOYS VARSITY

Arab 58, Fort Payne 54

When you’re leading the game 16-2 at the end of the first quarter, you have to feel pretty confident you’ll get a win.

“We had seen on film where Fort Payne had fell behind in other games but they have no quit,” said coach Brandon Crews. “They have come back all season and we had to remind our guys of that at the end of the first quarter.”

And the Wildcats did come back. They trailed the Knights by only one point at the half and by two at the end of three quarters.

“You have to give Fort. Payne credit. They have good players and they’re well coached,” Crews said.

One big reason for the comeback was senior Malik Turner, who poured in 24 points including a fast-break dunk. But the Knights had big plays, too.

Will Cavender got a shot at the end of the third quarter to ensure the lead and finished with 10 points. Spencer Strickland hit three 3’s and had 13 points, and James Ed Johnson continued to pace Arab – this time with 25 points including four 3’s. The senior was 5-for-5 at the free throw line and got the go-ahead shot for Arab with seconds left to secure the victory.

“He obviously works very hard and is a special player, but Ed would be the first to tell you that he doesn’t throw the ball to himself,” Crews said. “He doesn’t get that shot with less than a minute to go tonight without Spencer making the perfect pass.

“It’s great to have him but he is a team player and he will be the first to deflect the credit to his teammates.”

• JV BOYS

Fort Payne 56, Arab 48

“I liked the way we moved the ball and got good shots on offense tonight, but what I didn’t like was it was the worst game of the year for us defensively as far as keeping people away from the rim and getting rebounds,” said coach Jonathan Embry.

“We gave them too many second chances.”

Drew Puccio led Arab with 15 points, Eli Morrison had 13 and David Crabtree had seven.

“Drew played great. Besides his scoring, he got other people shots. I felt like David Crabtree stepped up, too. They had a good post player and I thought he played well. But, collectively, we’ve got some improving to do defensively,” said Embry.

• 9TH GRADE BOYS

Arab 79, Fort Payne 41

The Knights were hot in this one, building up a 40-25 lead by halftime.

“We came out strong and got a lot of good, open shots,” said coach Dylan Pope. “We rebounded the ball well tonight, too, but when you put the ball in the basket, it makes things easy.”

Carson Jennings led Arab with 19 points, Evan Brazelton had 11, Logan Alldredge 10, Noah Mann and Landon Strickland had nine each and Lawson King and Jackson East had seven each.

• VARSITY GIRLS

Fort Payne 47, Arab 35

The Lady Knights were able to manage scoring only 16 points through three quarters, including a scoreless third quarter, before scoring 19 in the fourth quarter.

It was too late, but coach Brad Kitchens was pleased with the greatly improved hustle and determination that seemed to be missing against Albertville last week.

“I was very proud of them. Their effort was outstanding tonight,” Kitchens said. “We could have folded again, but we didn’t do that.

“We had our best quarter, maybe for all year, in the fourth. We played real well down the stretch but you can’t come out after the half and not score at all in the third.

“We were out of sync that entire quarter and it seemed to go back to them hitting a 3 just before the half ended. I think we were still mullygrubbing over that, but we did get a little fire under us after that.”

Bryleigh Bodine had seven points, Laney Kelley had nine and 5-foot-10 sophomore Sydney Ferguson had one of her better games with 14 points.

“She had a really good fourth quarter,” Kitchens said. “Sydney scored 10 of her 14 points in the last quarter and was really getting after the boards.

“Laney got in foul trouble but got back in there and went to war for us, too.”

Kitchens is confident the Lady Knights best days are ahead of them

“This team is very close to clicking and when we put it all together we’ll be tough to beat,” he said.

• JV GIRLS

Fort Payne 36, Arab 26

“We couldn’t catch a break,” said coach Carlie Henderson.

The Knights pulled to within four points at one point but the Wildcats always pulled away.

“They rushed us and we played into it. We didn’t take care of the ball and had too many turnovers,” Henderson said. “That has been an issue for us.”

Maggie Chastain had six points for Arab. Julie Stapler had five and Ella Bradshaw had four.

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