Adams Christian nets season sweep of Central Private with 76-68 win

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 5, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Never has a loss felt so darned good.

Adams Christian’s Friday loss at Brookhaven Academy may have ended up a blessing in disguise for Tuesday’s contest at home against Central Private. There the AC Rebels had trouble with the press at key times in the second half and came up short.

Tuesday night, however, was different. Up against perhaps the closest thing to Brookhaven, the AC Rebels took a 76-68 win over Central Private to take the season sweep and knock CPS out of the running for the overall No. 1 seed for next week’s District 2-AAA tournament.

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It also could put both teams in a four-way tie for that spot pending the outcome of the Jackson Prep-Hillcrest Christian game.

&uot;I’m real proud of our kids,&uot; AC head coach John Gray said. &uot;They really turned it up tonight defensively. Our ball handling is getting better each game. That’s a big win when you defeat the No. 3 team two times in a row. We’re the only blemishes on their record in AAA. We’re real proud of what we were able to accomplish.&uot;

Credit much of it to keeping Central Private out of its full-court game &045; one that like Brookhaven has been their biggest strength in putting people away. Central Private stayed with its 2-2-1 press most of the game, but AC kept its cool and didn’t have many turnovers.

It marked a season sweep of Central Private after AC took a 49-48 win Jan. 6 at Central Private when Ray Simpson canned a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

&uot;Everybody battled, played as a team and pulled it out against one of the better teams,&uot; said AC junior Dustin Case, who led his team with 18 points. &uot;We’ve got three or four ball handlers that can bring the ball up the court, and we’ve all got confidence we can do it. We’re used to it playing as many games as we’ve played. We didn’t play well at all (the first meeting), and neither did they. We came out on the lucky end that night. But we matched their intensity tonight and came out with a win.&uot;

Adams Christian held the lead from midway through the first quarter on and took a 12-point lead on two occasions in the fourth quarter. But that’s when the game crept on when both teams started to foul and put the other team on the line shooting two.

Central Private, who had three players foul out and another get ejected, put Adams Christian on the line 30 times in the fourth quarter.

The AC Rebels knocked down 21 of them &045; including nine of 14 in the final two minutes.

&uot;They did a real good job of shooting free throws in the fourth quarter,&uot; Central Private head coach Jason Norris said. &uot;They knocked them down when they had to. We lost some ball handlers, but we put ourselves in that position because we had to foul late in the game.&uot;

Case and Ray Simpson each knocked down six in the fourth quarter &045; Simpson finished with 14 points off the bench &045; but AC was relieved to come through in the clutch. The first half was a different story as AC went hit just eight of 20 free throws, allowing Central Private to stay within reach at 32-28 at halftime.

&uot;I’ve worked them all year with that, and we’ve talked about it,&uot; Gray said. &uot;We’ve really stressed concentration. I don’t have an answer right now &045; I really don’t. We can’t beat good teams if we can’t make 60 or 70 percent of our free throws. I know the free throws looked bad, but they basically fouled us the last three minutes (of the game). I guess they watched us shoot free throws in the first half, and I don’t blame them.&uot;

Gray never got his club out of its 2-3 zone defense and kept it a half-court game for the most part. Central Private stayed within eight or so in the fourth quarter but could never kick the door open.

Kurt Perkins hit two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter &045; the second with 2:06 left that cut it to 67-60 &045; but couldn’t mount a rally. Perkins put in a bucket with 1:13 left to cut it to 69-64, but his club had just one field goal after that while AC hit seven of 10 free throws.

&uot;We never could attack the inside of their zone,&uot; Norris said. &uot;We just couldn’t shoot the ball well. Perkins shot the ball very well in the second half, but we’ve got to get our guards to do a better job of driving it to the basket.&uot;