Arab basketball: Knights win tournament

The Arab boys with the trophy they won at Holly Pond.

After Lincoln County defeated Guntersville 54-48 in the Holly Pond Tournament last Tuesday night, the Knights went into Wednesday’s championship game knowing they faced a significant challenge.

Arab answered the Falcons’ full-court pressure with hustle and a lot of determination. But it certainly wasn’t easy in a 76-64 win. The Knights managed a 21-12 first-quarter lead and essentially clawed their way through the remainder of the contest.

“It was a hard-fought game,” said coach Brandon Crews. “They play a different style game from what we’ve seen so far this year, a complete 180 to what we saw (Tuesday).

“With the quick turnaround and short preparation time, credit our kids for competing at a high level. Several guys really stepped up tonight, some of them battling foul issues, so it was a good quality win.”

James Ed Johnson led the Knights with 19 points, Will Cavender had 14, and John Wesson Johnson and Spencer Strickland added nine each. Strickland’s points included a driving dunk that helped give Arab the spark it needed in the second half.

“That was a cool moment and he will never let us forget about it,” laughed Crews.

Owen Thomas had five points in the game. While Ed Johnson has been the consistent points leader for the team, Crews said everyone has contributed to the Knights’ 6-1 start.

“Multiple guys are stepping up at different times and we’ve been preaching that this year. We’ve got good players who can have good nights for this team at different times,” he said.

On Tuesday, the varsity Knights defeated Cold Springs 41-28. Arab had built up a 15-point lead after three quarters before handing Cold Springs its first loss of the season.

The relatively low-scoring game came as no surprise to Crews.

“They are very deliberate on offense,” he said. “They don’t take a shot until they get the exact look they want. So, there were not a lot of possessions in the game and that resulted in the low score we were expecting.”

Ed Johnson was good for six 3’s and had 24 points for the Knights, while Thomas added six points on two 3’s

Arab 61, John Paul II 34

In almost methodical fashion the Knights picked up win No. 7 Tuesday night, if you call making 12 3’s methodical. The Falcons were coming off two straight wins, including a victory over Madison County.

Arab led 34-21 at the half, leaving the coach with no complaints.

“JP II is real young but very athletic and they’re playing good basketball,” Crews said. “They did some things that gave us a few problems but our guys executed really good tonight.

“We got off to a hot start making shots but when that cooled down, we found our groove defensively and guarded a lot better, especially in the third quarter. But overall, I was really happy with the effort. I thought we played solid from start to finish.”

Ed Johnson led the Knights with 14 points, Cavender had 12 and Wes Johnson and Dakota NeSmith had eight points each. The game allowed the coach to play everyone on the team.

“It’s a blessing and a curse. We’ve got 12 guys on the team and they’re all great kids. They work really hard and are great teammates,” Crews said. “It’s not always easy to play that many guys but it’s nice to be able to do that. It’s good for everybody.”

• JV BOYS

Boaz 50, Arab 39

In the Sure Shot Tournament last Tuesday, Boaz split their scoring evenly, leading 25-11 at the half, as Arab struggled early.

“We played better the second half, but had a hard time getting started again,” said coach Jonathan Embry.

Dylan Benefield led the Knights with 13 points, Carson Jennings had 11 and Austin Dyson had five.

• Arab 43, Sardis 31

On Wednesday, a strong first half allowed the Knights to secure a solid win. Arab (3-4) led by eight after a quarter and by 15 at the half.

“We kind of held on from there, but it was good start for us,” Embry said.

Jennings had 11 points for Arab, Jack Bishop had nine and Evan Brazelton had eight.

• John Paul II 45, Arab 38

On Tuesday, Arabian Knights fans were very proud of their team after finding themselves down 20 at one point before cutting the lead to four in the fourth quarter against a very athletic team.

“I was definitely pleased with the second half,” said coach Jonathan Embry. “We were kind of behind the 8-ball athletically. They have some transfer kids that can’t play varsity ball yet and they posed some matchup problems for us.

“We couldn’t seem to make shots the first half but we responded very well in the second half.”

Freshman Drew Puccio led the Knights with 11 points, Jack Bishop had 10 and Dylan Benefield had six.

“Drew had a great game,” Crews said. “He had a tough matchup on defense and did very well.

“Jack had a big game as well, so we’ve got some pieces to build on. I want us to play good teams and I want us to get better,” he said.

9TH GRADE BOYS

Arab 44, Boaz 28

Also playing in the Sure Shot Tournament last Tuesday, the Arab freshmen held off Boaz.

“The guys had to play really tough to win it,” said coach Dylan Pope. “Boaz hit a couple of back-to-back 3’s in the third quarter and got back in it.”

Lawson King and Drew Puccio had 12 points each.

“Both those guys had a great game. Lawson made numerous assists today and Drew had a good defensive game as well as a good night on offense,” said Pope.

Jonathan East had eight points for Arab, Wyatt Lamar hit two 3’s for six and Landon Strickland had four.

Arab 41, Fairview 31

Not your typical 10-point victory, but another win nonetheless for the ninth grade boys on Wednesday.

“We were down 12-0 and managed a 3-pointer just as the first quarter ended,” Pope said.

But once the Knights got rolling, good things happened. Arab led by two at the half and by one after three quarters before finishing strong. Puccio led Arab with 15 points.

“Can’t say enough about Drew tonight, he was a one-man press breaker at times and it made a big difference,” said Pope.

East and Strickland had six points each, Lamar had five and Lawson King had four.

“Once we did break the press, we had too many missed layups, so we’re going to be working on that,” Pope said.

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