By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
After three straight losses, Gadsden City High boys basketball coach Reginald Huff challenged his team to pick up the intensity and effort defensively.
It’s safe to say the Titans accepted Huff’s challenge after their performance last Monday (Dec. 18) in a 63-33 win over Southside.
Gadsden City (7-6) jumped out to an early 11-0 lead after the Panthers (3-7) turned the ball over three times due to the Titans’ full court pressure. By the time Southside settled in and started generating some offense, the Titans already had built a comfortable lead.
“We lost three games in a row,” Huff said. “I think that’s my longest losing streak since I’ve been a player or a coach. We lost three in a row last week to three teams I thought we were better than. Saturday night after Oxford whipped our tail, we went to the locker room, put on our practice shoes and went to practice.
“What we worked on is our defensive intensity. When we got it where we wanted it to be, we stopped practice. We had a lot of former players come in expressing their disgust in our intensity and our effort, and that was the difference in the way we played tonight.”
The Titans led 18-9 after the first quarter, and the closest Southside could get before halftime was six points. Gadsden City took a 42-27 lead into the locker room, and the Titan defense actually improved in the second half.
Southside only scored two points in the third quarter as the Titans went on a 15-0 run after the break. Gadsden City led 57-29 after three quarters and outscored the Panthers 6-4 in the final frame.
Gadsden City point guard Dee Pearson tied the school record with 19 assists on the night. Jaylen Cole and Kam Burnett each scored 18 points, while MarDayus Bothwell chipped in seven points and hauled in nine rebounds. Tristan Riggan led Southside with 12 points.
Huff said he hopes his team will maintain its defensive intensity and build on the win.
“Southside is a good ball club and has a good coach,” Huff said. “I know athletically we were a lot quicker and faster than them, but when we pick up our intensity, it makes it a hard matchup for anybody. My hat’s off to the Southside guys, because they played hard all the way until the end. Hopefully this will change the direction of where we’re going.”
Huff felt the offense improved and his team shot the ball well because of how hard it played on defense.
“We’re a good offensive team, but when you’re struggling defensively and teams are scoring on you at will and you’re not mentally or physically tough, you start shooting all jump shots,” he said. “One thing our defensive intensity against each other made us do was be a little more aggressive offensively. We get a lot of easy uncontested layups when you’re playing good defense.”