ALBANY -- For the past five weeks, Albany High coach Archie Chatmon had been waiting for a sign his young basketball team was beginning to grow up. On Tuesday night, he got just that.
Freshman guard Tyrone Culbreth pumped in a career-high 19 points as the Indians roared back from a three-point halftime deficit, outscoring Cook, 21-7, in the third quarter, to earn a hard-fought 56-53 Region 1-AA win over the visiting Hornets.
The Indians (6-5 overall, 3-2 Region 1-AA) led by as many as 16 points late in the third quarter before Cook -- behind a game-high 23 points from B.J. Henry -- cut the gap to three points with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game. But the Hornets (3-6, 1-2) could get no closer.
"Tyrone is going to be a nice player for us," Chatmon said of his 6-foot-2 wing guard. "Right now he is up and down, but he was up (Tuesday)."
The Indians, who trailed the entire first half, got off to a rough start but clawed within three points, 19-16, at the intermission.
The second half, however, was all orange and green.
Culbreth opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to tie it and Roscoe Byrd followed with a basket to push the Indians into a 21-19 advantage they would not relinquish. Albany clamped down defensively and embarked on 14-2 run over the next six minutes to grab a 37-21 advantage with a minute remaining in the quarter.
"When we got up by double figures, I told our guys that this was the type of game we have to learn how to finish and how to win," Chatmon said. "A young team can easily give away a game like that. It was a big win for us and at one point we are going to see a light bulb go off in these kids' heads and they will learn to trust their coaches."
Albany has back-to-back road games Friday and Saturday. The Indians will travel to Berrien before visiting Monroe.
COOK GIRLS 32, ALBANY 31:
Measha Davis scored Cook's final nine points as the Lady Hornets rallied from five points down in the final period.
Cook (4-4) trailed, 29-23, with 3:46 to go before Davis went on her tear. Davis, who led Cook with 13 points, hit three straight buckets and added a free throw to give Cook a 30-29 lead with two minutes left. But Albany's Jasmine Myers, who led all scorers with 15 points, dropped in a layup as the Squaws (2-8) regained the lead, 31-30, with 1:08 to go.
Seconds later, Davis canned a pair of free throws to make it, 32-31, with 30.2 seconds remaining. And the Squaws never got off another shot.