Herald Super 6er Tim Pierce put on a show, scoring a game-high 32 points as Albany High’s two 6-foot-1 guards combined for 58 points.
ALBANY — Maybe they can get some bumper stickers or at least rename a couple of plays at Albany High.
Or just coin the phrase: “12 in the lane.’’
Those words took on a meaning all their own Saturday night when Larry Sanford (psst, psst, he wears No. 12) decided to go in the lane in the third quarter against Westover.
He never came out.
Sanford set up shop there, got a new zip code, and the game flipped upside down as Albany High turned a 21-20 halftime lead into a 66-57 win to stay unbeaten.
“That’s a good way to put it — 12 in the lane. That’s what happened,’’ said Albany High coach Archie Chatmon with a smile and a laugh.
Chatmon continued: “He just lived in the lane. That was the difference in the game, 12 in the lane.’’
Sanford, who scored 24 of his 26 points in the second half, took over in the third quarter, driving for 13 points to ignite a 22-7 run that lifted the Indians to a 43-27 lead. Then, after Westover stormed back to close to 43-34, it was Sanford who put the final touches on the quarter with a thundering dunk with 5.7 seconds left.
He picked up a technical foul for hanging on the rim, but by then a packed crowd at Albany High was roaring, and on its feet, hanging on every play.
The Indians, ranked No. 2 in The Herald Fab 5, are now 3-0, and two of those wins have come against Herald No. 4 rival Westover, which had won three in a row, including a big 67-51 win against city rival Dougherty on Friday night.
But Saturday belonged to the Indians, who watched Herald Super 6er Tim Pierce put on a show, scoring a game-high 32 points as Albany High’s two 6-foot-1 guards combined for 58 points.
“We’re seeing what we have been frustrated by for the last four years,’’ Chatmon said. “Not that those two could put up those kind of numbers as freshmen, but we’ve been looking for this from them for a long time. It’s not surprising to us. That’s the kind of leadership and effort we need to get from them if we are going to climb that ladder.’’
Chatmon has a policy of not allowing any of his players to speak to the media, but both Pierce and Sanford did their talking on the court.
Pierce had some dazzling moves, including an alley-oop dunk in the second quarter that had the stands rocking, and Sanford simply drove Westover crazy in the second half.
“The biggest thing that happened was we got a little bit of a lead and he (Westover coach Dallis Smith) felt he had to go to (a man-to-man defense),’’ Chatmon said. “That gave (Sanford) opportunities to get in the lane, and he took advantage of it. It became his type of game, and he just took over. That type of game is tailor-made for him, and it was great to see him take advantage of it.’’
Smith and his Patriots were playing short-handed. Herald Super 6er Dequan Green didn’t play for internal reasons, and Brandon Hudson picked up three fouls early and sat out most of the game.
“He (Sanford) got in the lane and got them started,’’ Smith said. “Archie does a good job. this is probably one of his best teams in a few years. The difference in the game was they executed and we didn’t. And it looked like some of our guys had a little trouble playing back-to-back games. But Albany has a good team.’’
Smith had nothing but praise for Pierce.
“He’s tough,’’ he said. “I love him. I love the way he plays. His demeanor never changes. This is his (senior year) and I will love him a lot more when he’s gone.’’
Westover (5-3) was once again led by T. J. Cromer, who hit five 3’s and finished with 23 points. He nailed six 3s and scored 26 points in Friday night’s win against Dougherty.
“Folks just don’t go out and get 20 against us. That kid can play,’’ Chatmon said.
WESTOVER GIRLS 46, ALBANY HIGH 31: See ya next year!
That’s kind of what the Herald No. 1 Westover Lady Patriots said Saturday night as they completed an early stretch of 10 games by beating Albany High (2-3) to remain perfect on a night when they were perfect from the free throw line.
Westover is 10-0 after making 18-of-18 free throws and turning a tight game into a 15-point win.
“The free throws were the difference,’’ Albany High coach Telley Turner said. “We made 3 out of 15 and every time they went to the free throw line they would sink theirs.’’
The game was tied eight times before Herald Super 6er DyTiesha Dunson took over in the second half, dropping in 13 of her game-high 21 points. .
She scored nine of Westover’s 15 points in the fourth quarter and made two steals and grabbed three rebounds in the fourth and ignited 9-2 run to start the final frame to give Westover a 40-28 lead.
“Teams are trying a box-and-one against her,’’ Westover coach Lewis Smith said. “It just makes her work harder. They can’t stop her. It’s harder to get the ball to her, but once she gets it she is either going to score or create something for someone else and dish the ball off to someone under the basket.’’
“DyTiesha is going to get hers,’’ she said.
Herald super 6er Chasity Mullins got hers, too. Mullins led Albany with 15 points and six rebounds and ran the floor all night.
But Westover is perfect until next year. The Lady Patriots won’t play again until Jan. 3.
“We’ve played 10 games, and we are going to enjoy the break and rest up a few bumps and bruises, and I’m going to take a look at some of these other teams on the break,’’ Smith said.
He likes everything he has seen so far.
“I like the character of my team,’’ said Smith, who lost two starters who left Westover for other schools. “We will get in a hole, but we will fight to get out of it. It’s going to be that way with this team. We’re not going to have any big games. They are all going to be close games. That’s why free throws are so important to us.’’
They were on Saturday.