January 16, 2013 2:32:24 PM
Matthew Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew McBrayer didn't care what the final tally on the scoreboard said Tuesday night.
The New Hope High School boys basketball coach was angry and had just one message for his team following a 71-65 victory against defending Alabama High School Activities Association Class 1A state champion Pickens County High.
"I told them they better come to the gym (Wednesday) ready to work," McBrayer said. "I'm disappointed with our effort and, quite frankly, if we play like this Friday against West Point, they'll run us out of the gym quickly."
McBrayer was disappointed with two elements of his team's defense. Pickens County guards Laron Thomas, Devonte Simon, and Darius Jones consistently found wide open looks -- even in stretches McBrayer switched from man to zone -- in the first half.
"I think our guards really kept us in the game, and it's nice to see us in a game where we had to fight to stay in a game on the road," said Pickens County coach Patrick Plott, whose team slipped to 9-3. "There's a lot of positives we can take from this loss."
New Hope (12-7) stayed in control of the game, which never had a deficit larger than five, thanks to 23 made free throws. Sophomore guard Jaylon Bardley (game-high 17 points, five steals, four assists, three rebounds) nailed 5-of-6 from the free-throw line to seal the deal. When Plott instructed his club to go to a full-court trap in the second half, Bardley's confident ballhandling allowed New Hope to stop turning it over and to end the nerves the trap created.
Sophomore Demyis Mayberry also had 16 points. Nine players scored for the Trojans, showing the depth McBrayer has on an experienced squad.
"(Jaylon) did what a coach should expect out of a point guard, and then there again, he's a sophomore so he went too fast after he got it across (halfcourt)," McBrayer said. "He'll learn you need to back it out and run our offense in those spots."
McBrayer also was concerned about Pickens County's ability to convert second-chance baskets. Laron Thomas led Pickens County with 17 points, but he had only three baskets in the second half. McBrayer didn't allow the Trojans to celebrate the victory, telling them after the game they would have a full practice today, which is something the team usually doesn't do the day following a game.
"We're playing a team the same size as us tonight and you know what, there's no other way to describe it. They out hustled us all night," McBrayer said. "I don't want them to feel good about this one because if you've seen us play that's not our type of effort."
New Hope (girls) 71, Pickens County 35
Lately, the Lady Trojans have had to play against themselves.
For a team that hasn't had a final margin of victory of less than double digits since Christmas, coach Laura Lee Holman is finding games within the game to test her veteran group. Holman, a former New Hope High player, hopes those tests can help the program move closer to matching some of the school's top teams. New Hope has appeared in the state championship game in 1981, 1984, 1985, and 1989.
"Tonight was about limiting the offensive rebounds because it was something that hurt us against Oxford," Holman said. "We gave them a number to limit Pickens County to and then reminded them of that at halftime, and they did perfectly to meet our expectations."
Nine players had basket in the first half to help New Hope build a 49-17 lead.
"It's not uncommon for us to have eight or more players scoring because I've got young ladies that understand what it means to be a good teammate," Holman said. "This team has been a pleasure to coach because my kids really take to the team concept on and off the floor."
Pickens County took a 2-0 lead on a runner by guard Tyneitha Lanier, but New Hope ran off 13 of the next 15 points and coasted. The Lady Trojans (16-2) used a 25-2 run in the first half and led 69-24 after three quarters. A running clock was used for the fourth quarter.
Lanier led Pickens County with nine points.
D.J. Sanders had 16 points, Mercedes Mattix had 13, and Kristen Phillips and Kaitlin Bradley each had 10.
New Hope will travel Friday to play West Point in a matchup of two Class 5A teams that are undefeated in league play.