Saks sneaks past Piedmont in tourney
by Rip Donovan
Special to The Star
Feb 10, 2014 | 461 views |  0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Basketball season came to a disappointing close for the Piedmont boys Friday at Weaver. The Bulldogs lost to Saks 63-62 in the semifinal round of the Class 3A, Area 10 tournament after leading from the five-minute mark of the first quarter until just 1:15 remained to play. The loss snapped Piedmont’s four-game winning streak and ended the Bulldogs’ season at 15-11.

Piedmont drilled six 3-point baskets in the first quarter and led 24-12 as the second quarter opened. Darnell Jackson had a pair of treys while Dreek Thompson, Ty Sparks, Denard Spears and Caleb Adams netted one apiece. At halftime, the Bulldogs were still up 35-27.

With three minutes remaining in the third quarter, Saks had cut Piedmont’s advantage to 45-43. In the final two minutes of the third, Spears hit two free throws then scored an inside basket on a feed from Jackson. With 10 seconds left in the quarter, Saks was whistled for an intentional foul. Spears added two more free throws and the Bulldogs had a 52-45 lead and the ball. On the inbounds play, Piedmont turned the ball over and Saks scored a fast-break layup just before the buzzer.

The Wildcats got the first points of the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer. Spears took a steal in for a layup and a 54-50 edge with 7:20 to go. It took almost two minutes for either team to score again. A 3-point try by Piedmont rimmed out but Adams got the offensive rebounds and drilled his third and final triple with 5:32 left, pushing the Bulldogs up 57-50. Spears drive made it 59-53 Bulldogs with 3:49 to go but game’s next 10 points belonged to Saks. Piedmont finally scored again with 2.2 seconds remaining on Spears’ 3-pointer off the dribble.

The Bulldogs called their last timeout with 1.4 seconds on the clock. Saks had exhausted its timeouts and for a moment it appeared Piedmont might force a five-second count and a turnover. The Wildcats threw the ball toward midcourt and Jackson was able to make an acrobatic steal but he was falling away from the Piedmont basket and his desperation heave didn’t draw iron.

Piedmont seniors Adams, Sparks and Spears went out like champions. Spears scored 27 points, hit two of his three 3-point attempts and was 7-for-7 at the free throw line. He had three assists and three steals. Adams was 3-for-5 from outside the arc and ended with 11 points. He also had three assists. Sparks was 2-for-2 on long-range attempts and scored eight points. Jackson had 11 points, four assists and two steals. Thompson scored five points and dished out two assists.

Jackson led the Bulldogs on the boards with seven rebounds. Spears garnered four rebounds and Thompson had three. The trio accounted for 14 of Piedmont’s 19 rebounds as the Wildcats won the rebounding battle 29-19.

Piedmont closed the regular season on February 4 with an 84-75 home-court win over Pisgah. It was as physical a game as the Bulldogs had played all season with the Eagles hand-checking and bumping on virtually every possession. Pisgah won the second quarters 21-16 and led 34-33 at halftime. Piedmont responded with a 30-21 margin in the third quarter. Jackson tallied seven of his nine points in the third and Thompson had a pair for treys in the third on his way to 14 points for the game. Jackson had four rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Thompson grabbed two rebounds and had two assists.

Spears finished with 21 points, seven boards, two assists, two steals and two blocks. Sparks recorded 16 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Tyler Lusk was 2-for-2 on 3-point tries and scored eight points. Adams and Taylor Hayes scored six points apiece. Adams had four assists, three steals, three rebounds and a block and Hayes added two rebounds and an assist to his line. Bayley Blanchard and Austin Brazier each scored two points. Brazier pulled down six rebounds and Exavyer Jackson had three boards.
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Saks sneaks past Piedmont in tourney by Rip Donovan
Special to The Star

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