AC shakes off loss, focused for state tour

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 18, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Luke Ogden can’t really understand what all the hoopla was about.

Sure, Glenn Williams’ half-court shot at the buzzer to beat Jackson Prep Friday was one of the most amazing things he had ever witnessed, but Ogden had a gut feeling about it.

A feeling that Williams wouldn’t miss.

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&uot;Everybody thought it was a luck shot, but he set up and shot the ball really well,&uot; said Ogden, ACCS’s starting center. &uot;It wasn’t a luck shot. The crowd went crazy.&uot;

You can bet emotions at the Parklane gym ran the gamut after the Rebels upset Jackson Prep to land in the finals of the Class AAA South State. Even though the Rebels lost to Hillcrest in the finals, the buzz from Friday’s win has set the tone for the Rebels this week at the state tournament.

&uot;I’ve got it on tape,&uot; Williams said. &uot;I watched it about 100 times when I got home &045; at least. It was pretty fun and a great feeling. He (Ogden) told me he said, ‘Money!’ right when it left my hand. I felt good about it, but that’s one you can never be sure of. But I had a good feeling it would go in.

&uot;Beau (Brashier) tackled me. He tackled me and just killed me.’

The buzz continues today as the Rebels face Lee Academy of Clarksdale in the opening round of the tournament. The loss Saturday to Hillcrest didn’t put a damper on anyone’s spirits as the Rebels are entering the state tournament for the first time in several years.

Not only did Williams’ shot set off a wave of euphoria, it also marked the second time this season the Rebels knocked off powerhouse Jackson Prep.

&uot;Those are special moments you get once in a lifetime,&uot; AC head coach Ricky Gray said of Williams’ shot. &uot;I think we’re excited. Everybody is real pumped up and ready to go. Being in the state tournament is a big thing at this school, and I’m excited about going. Our kids are hungry. One win gets us into overall. It’s just an exciting time at Adams Christian right now.&uot;

Underneath the excitement is a reality of what the Rebels need to do to compete. The biggest thing perhaps is what hurt them in the second half against Hillcrest &045; turnovers and lack of rebounds.

Tuesday’s game marks the beginning of a tournament of the best teams in all of MPSA, which leaves little margin for error.

&uot;We can’t turn the ball over,&uot; Williams said. &uot;When they get a shot off, we can’t let them get the offensive rebound. That’s what it all comes down to. We’ve got to put a lot of pressure on them, too. That’s what’s got us to this point &045; defense. We play great defense and put pressure on them. That’s what we’ve got to step up.&uot;

Williams is the catalyst at the top of the Rebels’ half-court defense, but the rebounding could be the X factor &045; especially against Lee. The Rebels have only Ogden underneath to match up size-wise with most folks, and Lee Academy’s Colts have plenty of size in the middle &045; guys going 6-3, 6-4 and 6-5.

But size can be offset by the right amount of quickness, and that’s what the Rebels are banking on.

&uot;The biggest thing about Lee is their size,&uot; Gray said. &uot;They have a

big kid inside, and their shooting guard is 6-3. They don’t want to play an up-and-down game. They want to play a slow and deliberate game, and you know what we want to do. The team that controls the tempo is going to have a great night. I think boxing out and taking care of the basketball are going to be the two keys.&uot;

The Colts enter the game after finishing third in the North State tournament with a loss to Jackson Academy in the semifinals and a win over Magnolia Heights in the consolation game.

The match will be a reunion of sorts for Williams, who attended school at Lee Academy before he and his family moved to Natchez.

It’s also another way for the Rebels to show they belong among the elite teams in MPSA. People might have been skeptical after the first win over Prep, but now the Rebels are proving they’re no fluke.

&uot;I think most of the school is probably going to try to get there,&uot; Ogden said. &uot;Most people didn’t expect us to get this far. We’re going to try to make a statement when we get up there.&uot;