Smith hits 21 as Tigers stay alive in division race

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 22, 2003

FAYETTE &045; Call mama and tell her you will be a little late because Dewones Smith is serving up a mean batch of shake-n-bake.

With his quick step, ability to weave a pass through traffic or move around a defender to create space, the Jefferson County off-guard makes it look as though the ball is an extension of his hands.

&uot;I work on my ball handling skills all the time. It (the ball) sleeps right next to me at night,&uot; said Smith, who led all scorers with 21 in the Tigers 58-50 win over Wilkinson County Tuesday.

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&uot;I have dreams all day about games. I’ll be in class and play games in my mind.&uot;

Smith led three Tigers in double figures as Jefferson County (8-11, 4-5) got a huge win to stay alive in the regular season race for the division 7-3A title.

A victory where Jefferson County finally finished a game.

Head coach Marcus Walton has had to overcome many adversities this season, including lack of team chemistry.

But the main hurdle Walton has been dying for his Tigers to leap is playing four periods and finishing the game.

The Tigers took a step in that direction Tuesday as they knocked down eight of their nine free throws in the final minute to ice the win.

&uot;I’m proud of these kids for sticking together and hopefully they can see where togetherness can get them,&uot; Walton said. &uot;We can beat anybody, night in and night out, if we continue to play like this.&uot;

Coming out of halftime trailing by four, the Wildcats ran off eight straight points to commandeer the lead, 29-25, with 5:29 to play on a Bryant Spiller bucket.

Jefferson County finally got on the scoreboard in the second half and responded with four straight from Smth’s backcourt mate Joshfer Nichols.

In fact, Nichols kept the Tigers in it during the third period as he scored 10 of Jefferson County’s 11 points to trail the Wildcats by one, 37-36, heading into the fourth.

&uot;They were trying to relax on us and we were patient and took what they gave us,&uot; said Nichols, who finished with 18. &uot;We executed the offense real well.&uot;

Jefferson County took the lead to start the fourth with a bucket from LaKendrick Harried, who scored six points in his first game back from battling a cold.

The lead switched back into the hands of the Wildcats when Spiller answered with a 3-pointer at the 7-minute mark for a 40-38 advantage.

Spiller’s 11 and Timothy Jarvis’ 12 led the way for Wilkinson County (19-7, 6-3) who shot poorly from the field.

&uot;We missed a lot of wide open shots. It just didn’t go our way tonight,&uot; head coach Henry Story said. &uot;We were up one at a point and missed three straight layups. It could have been a different story.&uot;

Smith exploded out of the gates in the first period with 11 of the 21 he capped off the night with.

Smith acknowledged that the Tigers have battled a serious case of inner strive throughout this season.

However, he said those problems are in the past and he sees a team that is beginning its peak at the right time.

&uot;It’s time for us to come together,&uot; Smith said. &uot;I tried to get the boys together to head to church every Sunday and we keep God first.

&uot;We wanted to let Wilkinson County know we were no pushover. No fluke.&uot;

Jefferson County girls 46, Wilkinson County 44

FAYETTE &045; Divine intervention. Do you believe in it? It’s safe to say the Lady Tigers do.

LaTresha Wilson stole a Wilkinson County pass with less than 7 seconds left at midcourt and drove to the basket for the uncontested layup and her only points of the game to give Jefferson County an improbable win.

&uot;I’m glad no one was coming behind me,&uot; Wilson said.

Jefferson County (15-5, 8-1) blew what was once an 11-point third period lead to the Lady Wildcats, but found a way to hold on.

In a tied affair, Wilkinson County (8-15, 2-6) had the ball for the last shot coming out of a timeout with 12.9 seconds left.

Guard LaTasha Williams took the inbounds pass, looked for a teammate to pass to, only to have Kenyatta Williams tip the ball away to Wilson.

&uot;It was just a mental breakdown, but I can’t be upset by the way we played,&uot; Lady Wildcats’ head coach Edwin White said. &uot;I can’t expect any more than what my team gave me.&uot;

Lady Tigers’ head coach Flora McKnight said her team’s day began with a Fellowship of Christian Athletes morning meeting.

During warmups her team kept the good vibes flowing by singing christian songs.

&uot;Win or lose we don’t point fingers at each other,&uot; McKnight said. &uot;We are a team. God is in our life and God helped us win tonight.&uot;