By Chris McCarthy/Editor
A good many coaches prefer their team to maintain an unselfishness approach at all times during a game.
Not so James Graves.
With his team clinging to a four-point lead at halftime against Douglas on Tuesday (Jan. 3), the Etowah High boys basketball coach reminded his players that if they had an open shot, take it.
“Especially in the halfcourt situation, we had some unforced turnovers,” he said. “We were picking up our dribble in the halfcourt and turning the ball over. We can’t be too unselfish so that it leads to mistakes.”
The Blue Devils (5-6. 2-0) responded with a 23-5 third-quarter run that featured some impressive sharp shooting. Etowah knocked down five three-point baskets, with Alec Timmons sinking three of those treys. The Blue Devils also turned it up several notches on defense, as the visitors scored just once from the field during the first seven minutes of the second half.
When the third quarter buzzer finally sounded, Etowah had a 53-34 lead. The Blue Devils also were in the double-bonus free throw situation, and the hosts went 10-for-13 at the foul line down the stretch to keep the Eagles at bay. Douglas never got within 15 points during the final period.
“The kids came out [in the second half] and did what we expect them to do all the time,” said Graves. “We got up and down the court and moved the ball and got some easy baskets. When you make three stops and score three 3’s like we did [in the third quarter], we’re pretty tough to beat. That was difference in the ball game right there. We were also 19-for-25 (64 percent) at the free throw line, and that’s good for us.”
Chris Jones led the Blue Devils with 18 points, followed by Timmons and Jamin Graham with 14 each. Justin Harris and Andy Noles each added eight points, while Jailyn Jackson chipped in seven.
Emil Smith scored all of his six points in the first quarter to help Etowah to a 12-9 lead after one quarter.
The Blue Devils increased their advantage to 19-9 points in the second frame before Douglas pulled within 29-25 at halftime.
But it was bombs away for Etowah following Graves’ halftime message. Timmons knocked down a three-point basket 20 seconds into the second half, sparking a 20-2 run that effectively took the air out from under the Eagles.
“That third quarter was probably the best quarter we’ve played all year,” said Graves. “Plus, Jamin is a hard guy to deal with in the post, and when they do collapse on him, he makes good passes back out. If someone’s open, Jamin will find him.”