Wilkinson goes on road to upend JCHS, stay in race

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

FAYETTE &045; In a showdown of region 7-3A rivals separated by less than 75 miles and a platform for two of the Miss-Lou’s premiere players, the cream rose to the top, as it tends to do.

Wilkinson County head coach Henry Storey told his players he needed one more gift underneath the Christmas tree this year and a win over Jefferson County, which was previously unbeaten in region play, would suffice.

Senior Wildcats point gurad Bryant Spiller knocked down a pair of free throws and teammate Brain Dent followed seconds later to ensure the 55-52 victory for Wilkinson County, which led by as many as 17 in the second half.

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&uot;There was a lot of pressure on me,&uot; said Spiller, who led all scorers with 20 points. &uot;I just had to get that stuff off my mind. I prayed to God to help me and He did that.&uot;

Chris Carradine cut the gap to a bucket, 54-52, with 14.1 seconds left before Alvin Fosselman scored his only point of the night by hitting the front end of a one-and-one with 6.3 seconds left.

Tigers point Joshfer Nichols came out of the scrum with the ball; however, his baseball pass was knocked away by Spiller to bring the Wildcats (5-7, 2-2) to .500 in league play.

Jefferson County (6-10, 3-1) pecked away at deficit, which was at 14 with 5:50 left in the game, on the heels of a pair of Chris Carradine 3-pointer and an Eddie Davenport trey.

&uot;Defensive intensity is what got us back into it,&uot; Tigers head coach Marcus Walton said. &uot;We got a couple of turnovers, some easy looks and turned them into baskets. We got into a flow and were able to get out and get running.&uot;

With new addition Dudley Guice Jr., who withdrew from Trinity and enrolled at Fayette Friday, cheering his teammates on, Jefferson County cranked up its press and had the deficit cut to four, 50-46, with 1:13 left when Eddie Davenport single-handedly stole the ball from Spiller and laid one in.

Guice, who wore his Trinity letter jacket to the bench, will not be eligible to play until next week’s tournament at Jackson Public School, according to MHSAA rules.

When Nichols, who finished with 13 points, connected on a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left the Tigers were within a bucket, 52-50, for the first time since Nichols tied the score 4-all with a quick first step to the hole in the first period.

&uot;I still think once we get a big lead we want to build on it, rather than trying to continuously run the clock,&uot; said Storey, who picked up in his first win at Jefferson County since taking over five seasons ago. &uot;The clock is our ally, and that’s what I kept telling them. The way (the Tigers) were working their plays, they were helping to dissolve the clock.&uot;

Spiller, who outplayed Nichols &045; despite the Jefferson County senior nearly having to rim rocking follow-up dunks &045; hit tough leaners, finished on the break and hustled down own misses to keep his team ahead.

&uot;This is his team,&uot; Storey said of Spiller. &uot;He’s been with me since I got here. When he was getting off the bus (tonight) he told me he was ready. I said, ‘Show me.’&uot;

Mission accomplished.