Following a 79-62 loss to Weaver, the Piedmont boys rebounded by thrashing White Plains 86-58 then edging Saks 64-60. The Bulldogs are 2-1 in Area 10 games with three more area contests to be played – all in Piedmont.
“I think we shot a little better in our last two games, but Weaver’s defense may have had a lot to do with that,” Piedmont coach Tommy Lewis said Tuesday morning. “We are getting into our offense a little better so that may mean better shots, more made shots.”
The 86 points Piedmont scored against White Plains were the most the Bulldogs have put on the scoreboard against the Wildcats since Lewis took charge of the Piedmont team.
“I think both teams were surprised by a couple of our shooters. That first game with White Plains is usually not a very nice game for Piedmont. Coach (Chris) Randall usually puts a beating on us so I was more surprised than anyone,” Lewis said.
The second quarter, when the Bearcats out-pointed the Bulldogs 24-11, was Piedmont’s undoing against Weaver. The Bearcats’ Chris English scored 15 of his game-best 27 points in the second period. Otherwise, Weaver had a just a 19-17 edge in the first quarter and a 17-15 margin in the fourth. Each team scored 19 points in the third quarter.
Sophomore Darnell Jackson scored 20 points to lead the Bulldogs against Weaver. Denard Spears had 11 points. Caleb Adams netted three 3-point shots for nine points. Dreek Thompson and Easton Kirk scored five points apiece. Neonta Alexander and Taylor Hayes had four points each while Tyler Lusk and Bayley Blanchard each tallied two points.
Nine players scored for the Bulldogs again at White Plains. This time it was Piedmont’s turn to have a big second quarter, dominating 24-12.
The Bulldogs also won the fourth quarter 25-16. Spears led in scoring with 25 points, including three treys. Adams had five 3-pointers and 15 points.
Hayes scored 15 points. Jackson scored 14 points and was 3-for-3 at the free throw line. Thompson scored six points, Kirk four and Lusk three. Alexander and Austin Brazier each had two points.
In the win at Saks, Piedmont led 29-24 at halftime but the score was 44-all after three quarters. Two minutes into the fourth quarter, Adams hit 3-pointers on consecutive Piedmont possessions to push the Bulldogs ahead 52-46. Piedmont never trailed again. Following a Saks timeout, Adams made both ends of a one-and-one free throw opportunity and the Bulldogs led 54-46 with 5:23 left.
Spears hit a driving basket and a floater then his two free throws made it 60-52 with 1:58 to go. In the final 35 seconds, the Wildcats made it a two-point game twice but each time Spears answered with a pair of free throws. The second pair came with 12.1 seconds to play. Piedmont’s defense denied Saks another shot until a desperation 3-point heave at the buzzer was off the mark.
Ten players scored for the Bulldogs. Adams had five treys and 17 points in all. Spears scored 15 points, 10 in the fourth quarter, and had three assists. Lusk had seven points. Alexander scored six points, Brazier five and Hayes four. Thompson and Kirk each had one 3-pointer. Jackson and Blanchard scored two points apiece. Darnell Jackson finished with six rebounds and Exavyer Jackson had four rebounds. Hayes and Alexander each grabbed three boards. Kirk made two steals.
The Bulldogs got a big first-quarter boost from Lewis’ second-five substitution wave. Saks led 6-2 midway through the first quarter when Lewis sent Alexander, Blanchard, Brazier, Hayes and Lusk into the game. Each of the five scored before the quarter ended and Piedmont led 15-14.
“I think in every game we have played outside the first one we have had nine to eleven people score but the difference against Saks was that the points were important, timely points instead of stat points when the game had been decided,” Lewis said. “We thought one of our strengths might be that we were willing to play so many players because we truly believe that they can and will hold their own and against White Plains and Saks the second group has played as well or even better in spurts.”
Piedmont was to have played its first home game of the season against Hokes Bluff Tuesday. The Bulldogs open action in the annual Cherokee Invitational tournament Thursday at Cedar Bluff against Cherokee County. The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
A win guarantees Piedmont two more games in the tournament, starting with a semifinal game Friday at 7 p.m. at the Gadsden State-Cherokee arena against the winner of Thursday’s game between Cedar Bluff and Gaylesville. The championship and consolation games will be Saturday at Gadsden State-Cherokee. The loser of the Piedmont versus Cherokee County game plays the Cedar Bluff-Gaylesville loser Friday at 8:30 p.m. at Cedar Bluff and is finished.
“Any time you can go 2-1 on the road, in the area we are in you can only hope to have that record so we hope we can build from it instead of getting lazy,” Lewis said.