Friday, January 13, 2012

SPORTS >> Bison earn road win at Augusta

Leader sportswriter

AUGUSTA – What appeared to be an early rout for Carlisle turned into a down-to-the-wire finish in a thrilling 59-58 road victory over Augusta to give the Bison their second 2A-6 Conference win of the season, and the week on Thursday at Red Devil Arena.

Carlisle senior guard Zac King scored on a putback of his own miss in the final five seconds for half of his points in the game as the Bison (4-6, 2-5) barely held on to win after leading 25-5 mid way through the second quarter.

But that was before Augusta forward Jordan Brown stunned the Bison in the final two minutes of the third quarter with a barrage of steals, dunks and dishes to teammates that quickly evaporated Carlisle’s lead from 42-29 to 43-38 heading into the final period.

“We’re a very young basketball team,” Bison coach William Rountree said. “I thought we played real well in the first half. I thought we missed some opportunities to continue to push that out in the third quarter. We weren’t quite as sharp. Give Augusta credit – they played real well in the fourth quarter. They had some guys hit some shots that we really hadn’t anticipated.”

Brown made it a three-point game to start the fourth quarter with a floater in the lane, but Braden Reed answered for Carlisle with a lay up to make it 45-40. Austin Reed then hit a lay up and drew a foul from L.J. Driver. He made the free throw to extend the Bison lead to 48-40 with 7:05 left to play.

The Bison extended their advantage back to 11, but a pair of three pointers by Anfernee Neal and another from Lorenzo Pryor that followed an inside basket by Carlisle post player Deron Ricks made it 57-55 with 42 seconds remaining.

“When we weren’t scoring and giving them some easies off turnovers, and then they hit some threes,” Rountree said. “And that’s what the three will do for you. And you can look back and say we have to get better at this and better at that, but thankfully, we got a win. I think anytime you come to Augusta Arkansas and win a ballgame, you’ve done something to be proud of.”

Jeremy Metcalf missed a jumper for Carlisle and Neal pulled down the rebound for Augusta. He took it to the other end and hit another three that gave the Red Devils their first and only lead of the game at 58-57 at the 20-second mark. Point guard Chris Hart brought the ball down for Carlisle and dished to Metcalf inside. That pulled the defense over to Metcalf, who lobbed it across the key to King. King went up and missed, but was able to fight for the rebound and go up again, this time finding net.

Neal launched one final desperate shot from midcourt as time expired but did not have enough on it as the Bison escaped by the narrowest of margins.

“The first half, we just couldn’t get a bucket to go in and missed a lot of free throws,” Augusta coach Ricky Edwards said. “The guys didn’t give up. They came out in the second half and just kept at it and fought their way back in the game.

“If we would have had a better first half, I think the outcome would have been different, but you can point to a number of things we could have been better at.”

In the first half, the Red Devils (8-8, 4-3) looked miles away from the dynamic they ultimately proved to be as Carlisle held them to five points from the 1:35 mark of the first quarter until the 3:46 mark of the second quarter when Neal hit the first of his five three-point baskets for the game. In that time, Braden Reed and post player Chris Edwards led the Bison to a 19-5 lead at the end of one, and early second-quarter baskets by Metcalf and Dathan Hill pushed the advantage to 21-5 with 7:10 left to go in the first half.

That led to a drought of over two minutes by both teams until Hill converted a transition lay up at the 4:51 mark, followed by a basket by King to make it 25-5. Hill converted an easy wide-open lay up with 4:05 remaining to give the Bison their biggest lead of the game at 27-5 before the Red Devils closed the gap to 33-16 at the break.

Edwards led the Bison with 12 points and eight rebounds while Ricks, Bo Weddle and Austin Reed each finished with eight points. For Augusta, Brown led with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven steals, six of which came in the final four minutes of the third quarter. Neal had 17 points including five three pointers while Pryor had 12 points.

“It’s going to be tough; it’s going to be a dog fight,” Edwards said of the 2A-6 Conference race. You look at Carlisle, look at Des Arc, look at Hughes – we’re going to be in the mix. But every night, we’ve got to come out ready to play.”