Wetumpka hangs on against Panthers

Published 11:46am Wednesday, November 27, 2013

For the second consecutive game, the Wetumpka Indians boys’ basketball team struggled to sink free throws down the stretch.

Wetumpka's Rodreka Jones slams the ball against the Panthers. Photo by Cory Diaz
Wetumpka’s Rodreka Jones slams the ball against the Panthers. Photo by Cory Diaz

The Indians (2-1) couldn’t overcome 12 missed from the line Nov. 19 en route to a seven-point loss at Booker T. Washington. Against the Elmore County Panthers (1-1), WHS survived 13 missed free throws to hold on to a 70-65.
“We missed 13 free throws,” Indians head coach Ed Rogers said. “Free throws are key. We add that to our practices everyday. Now, they’re understanding whey we’re shooting those free throws. Tonight we shot a little bit better at the end, but in the beginning we were kind of slow.”
Wetumpka led 49-48 as the final period got underway. A dunk from Panther senior forward Javon Moore with 4:23 remaining tied things up at 55.
Two successful trips to the line by Indian guard Rodreka Jones pushed his team’s advantage to 62-57 with 2:49 to go. Four WHS misses at the charity stripe in the final two minutes gave Elmore County a chance down to the buzzer.
But ECHS stayed in the game thanks to a 15-point third quarter by guard Sergio Birmingham.
“Sergio is that kind of guy,” said Panther head coach Wilbur Terrell. “He likes to be our go-to guy down the stretch and he’s been that guy the last couple of years. He knows how to do it. We’re still missing two starters from last year’s team and that kind of hurt the chemistry a little bit. We’re still trying to learn how to play with each other.”
Elmore County sported a 31-27 lead at the half but the Indians charged out with a 7-2 run to go up 34-31. Birmingham proceeded to tally his team’s next six points and 13 of the Panthers 14 points it took to regain the lead at 46-45 at the 1:46 in the third period.
After Birmingham’s offensive outpouring, Wetumpka clamped down defensively on the guard, allowing only three points in the fourth.
“They doubled (Sergio),” Terrell said. “That’s part of basketball, when they take somebody out, there’s a lot of stuff you can do when they take one out. I thought we had something planned for that, it just didn’t happen like we wanted it to.”
Birmingham ended the night with 27 points to lead all scorers. Moore added 15 for the Panthers.
Coming into the contest off a loss in the first game with the full team, and trailing at the half at Elmore County, Rogers knew the transition wasn’t going to happen overnight.
“The guys just gotta believe and trust in each other and their coaches,” Roger said. “You know, having a coaching change, they’ve been used to a certain style for a long time and we try to teach them something different. Once we get the football players back in sync with everybody else, I think we’ll be fine in the future. We just haven’t gotten where we need to be.”
Jones led the way for the Indians with 24 points. Zack Clark recorded 14 and De’Arris Buycks tallied 10 for Wetumpka.

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