LEESBURG -- To illustrate how Worth County's Josh Alford dominated the first half, he drove the lane and attempted a shot that two Lee County defenders got a hand on.
It still went in for a 34-25 Rams lead.
But after he was ejected late in the third quarter via a double technical, Worth coach Arthur Davis wondered who would take the place of Alford, who had already scored 27 points. There was no clear answer, but Davis' team found the basket when it needed to withstood a Trojans comeback, winning, 64-61, on Friday.
"We just pressed on after Josh was tossed. I kept telling the guys it was time for someone else to step up and make a difference," said Davis, a first-year coach whose team is 2-0. "The guys just responded and played hard."
After Alford and Lee County's Samford Seay got tangled up, the officials called two technicals on Alford, therefore ejecting him and making him ineligible for the next game. Seay also received a technical, as did Lee County coach Tim McPherson, who argued that Seay should not have been assessed a technical foul at all.
Missing the Rams' high scorer, Davis tried to compensate for the loss by rotating Jatavius Rockwell and Hassan Davis in Alford's spot. Lee County moved within 47-42 by the end of the third, but turnovers led to a 9-0 Rams run that put Worth County back in control.
Then, with less than 10 seconds left, the Trojans' Jakoby Mallory sank a 3-pointer that moved the Trojans within 64-61, but that was as close as Lee County could get. Worth County runs like the one it had to start the fourth quarter were not what was on McPherson's mind after the game.
"I remember us trailing, 18-17, and we went coast-to-coast five times in a row and were unable to score," said McPherson, whose team is 1-5.
Alford, who had 23 points at halftime, was the one McPherson knew his team had to contain after halftime. Although Alford only scored four more points, Dee Dether also made timely shots for the Rams, finishing with 13 points.
"The free throws down the stretch were huge for us," Dether said. "When we lost our leading scorer, I was even surprised at how we responded."
Seay led Lee County with 16 points, followed by Mallory (15) and James Terrell (14).
LEE BOYS COACH BACK AT IT AFTER HEALTH SCARE:
A routine colonoscopy led to a major problem for Lee County boys basketball coach McPherson last month.
He experienced complications after it, causing him to pass out a few days later with his pulse stopped and ability to breathe paralyzed for about 90 seconds. Now well enough to coach the Trojans after taking a week off last month to let the hemoglobin in his blood build back up, McPherson received plenty of help from assistants Kaion Hamilton and Ric Carr, who filled in for him at practice.
"It was just a scary moment," said his wife, Fran McPherson, who coaches the Lady Trojans. "I was just asking the nurse at the time, 'Do you feel a pulse?' "
Although Tim is occasionally still tired these day while letting the hemoglobin increase, he was happy for one thing Friday.
"I'm just glad to be back at the bench," McPherson said.