Saints start out in stall, but AC finishes solid

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; That was just what this rivalry needed.

With Adams Christian’s and Trinity Episcopal’s boys’ basketball teams squaring off for the first time in five years, there was plenty of tension in the air at the start and both sides were on the edge of their seat to begin with.

So Gregory Ketchings just stood there.

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Sometimes he dribbled. Sometimes he just held it. The clock kept running, and no one on the floor seemed to mind.

After the Rebels had a 12-2 halftime lead, things picked up just a little bit. The Rebels took a 40-19 win over Trinity in what ended a long winning streak of Trinity’s on its home floor inside the Clyde Adams Arena Saturday afternoon.

&uot;He had a good strategy &045; he really did,&uot; ACCS head coach John Gray said of the move on the part of Trinity head coach David King. &uot;You’ve got to give him credit. He felt like that was way they could play and stay in the ball game. They caught us off guard. I thought it was too early to talk about people stalling the ball as a means of trying to stay in the game. But they’re going to be a very good basketball team.&uot;

The strategy did work for the first half as the Saints were out-scored just 5-0 in the second quarter. The Rebels, who have utilized more of a full-court attack of late, kept pushing it up the floor well and hoping Trinity would return the favor.

For a half, at least, the Saints didn’t. The Rebels either stayed in their zone defense or switched to a man but didn’t force anything, and the clock rolled.

And fans sought out cups of espresso at halftime.

&uot;If we would have listened &045; again, we haven’t practiced it,&uot; King said. &uot;I know that wasn’t very pleasing to the crowd, but we thought that was the best opportunity we had. John did a great job coaching them, but we’re not a very well-coached team right now. We haven’t had time. But we’ll get there.&uot;

But as the clock started to wind down in the second half, the Saints &045; whose quickness made their stall tactic the epitome of irony &045; started to pick it up to get the game going. That’s when the Rebels, who had a distinct size advantage inside with Luke Ogden, Hunter Halford and Casey Gould on the block, started pounding it inside and getting an occasional jumper from the perimeter.

Ogden put in a basket with 4:31 left in the third to put the lead at 16-5, and Glenn Williams followed with a layup off a steal just 12 seconds later for an 18-5 lead.

&uot;I guess that’s what they thought was the best thing for to do,&uot; Williams said. &uot;But they came out in the second half and started playing. It was a fun game to play and was fun getting back into the rivalry. But the first half kind of wore us down. We didn’t make very good decisions, and I got into foul trouble. But they’re quick &045; they’re real quick.&uot;

The Rebels tried to get it inside later but instead got two big 3-pointers &045; one from Ray Simpson and another from Brent Dossett from way out at the buzzer &045; to help take a 24-10 lead at the end of the third quarter. Ogden and Williams both sat some of the third quarter in foul trouble, but AC kept with the offensive attack against Trinity’s triangle-and-two defense.

&uot;That’s very difficult against a lot of people,&uot; Gray said. &uot;But what they were failing to realize is the one position in the post was open. You’ve got to leave something open if you rotate. What we wanted to do was move them out of the area where the people were playing man. I’m real pleased we have a ball club where you can draw it up at a halftime and you can run it.&uot;

The Saints got a couple buckets in the fourth quarter and played hard to the very end. Ketchings drained a 3-pointer with 4:30 left in the fourth that trimmed the lead to 29-17, and the Saints got another basket from Ryan Rachal that kept the deficit at 12 with 2:21 left.

But they didn’t get another field goal in despite numerous attempts, and attempts to get it inside to Stevan Ridley in the post were difficult.

&uot;I’m just trying to be as nice as I can &045; we’ve got two or three guys who haven’t played the game,&uot; King said. &uot;We’re not going to match up with them. They’ve got some great athletes. We did what we thought we could do to stay in the game. That’s all we could do. We’re just not a very good team right now. We feel by February this team will be a very good club.

&uot;I promise you this &045; we’ll work harder than anybody in the state. Put that in there because these kids deserve it. They work hard every time they get out there.&uot;

The Rebels kept the defensive pressure up in the second half despite Williams going to the bench with three fouls. Ketchings’ 3-pointer with 1:46 left in the third had cut it to 10, the Saints’ closest deficit of the second half, but he hit just one more in the half.

The Saints had just five field goals the second half.

But, then again, they had just one the first half and were sitting in good position.

&uot;You’ve got to give them credit &045; they played hard,&uot; Gray said. &uot;They really had us frustrated the first half. They changed their strategy when they got behind and had to start playing. That was his strategy &045; to go inside or set screens for Gregory. Once we understood that, it helped us. But they had a good game plan all the way through.&uot;