Tyrone Culbreath, right, shoots over Mitchell County’s Jermain Hartsfield for two of the 10 points he scored in Albany’s win Friday night in Camilla to keep the Indians unbeaten at 4-0. Mitchell, which came into the game undefeated at 4-0, fell to 4-1. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CAMILLA — The way things worked out, Albany High probably won this one about the time the Indians got to Baconton.
Well, at least it felt that way when Albany High roared out to a 21-6 first-quarter lead against Mitchell County and then hung on to win, 46-34, on Friday night to stay unbeaten at 4-0 and hand the Eagles (4-1) their first loss of the season.
“That was it,’’ Albany High coach Archie Chatmon said of his team’s fast start. “That was the difference. We were able to get that big lead early.’’
The Indians hit nine of 16 shots, including a pair of 3s from Larry Anderson, to jump out to that big lead and then held off a tough, scrappy team from Mitchell that should be in the hunt to win the Region 1-A title.
Mitchell County used to be in the same Region 2-A race with Albany High before dropping down to Class A last year. The Eagles are probably glad they don’t have to face Chatmon’s team in the region race this year. The Indians are ranked No. 2 in The Herald’s Fab 5 poll and No. 10 in the coaches Class AA state poll.
They have been impressive so far this season and were in control the entire game. The Indians led, 45-30, with 35 seconds left. And on a night when no one scored much, Albany High scored just enough.
“We just want to win. We don’t care what it looks like,’’ Chatmon said. “We’ll take it, especially here in this place. We’ll take it if we have to crawl out of here with a win. This is a tough place to win. It’s tough because of their great program.’’
It wasn’t pretty at times Friday night, but even when Mitchell made a run, the Indians seemed to have just what it took to hold off the Eagles, who had trouble scoring all night. They scored four points in the final 30 seconds of the game to close it to only a 12-point loss. Jaquan Williams, and Jermain Hartsfield led Mitchell with eight points each.
Hartsfield was in the middle of the play of the night that came with 5:25 left in the third. Mitchell had cut the lead to nine points (32-23) and had a wide-open fastbreak that would have closed the gap to seven points and put the crowd on its feet.
But Hartsfield missed a dunk, and Albany flipped the game around again with a 6-0 run that lifted the Indians to a 38-23 lead. Mitchell never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
“That was a huge play,’’ said Chatmon, who has a long-standing policy of not allowing his players to speak to the media. “It’s one of those plays that can have an effect on you. If he makes it, it lifts you up. But when you miss it, it kind of deflates you. We took advantage of it.’’
Both teams will play in the U Save It Basketball Tournament today at Albany High. Mitchell County opens with Herald No. 1 Monroe at 7 p.m., and Albany High faces Terrell County at 8:30 p.m.
Albany was once again led by Herald Super 6er Tim Pierce, who was averaging 28 points a game. Pierce finished with 14 points, five rebounds and two steals.
Larry Sanford, who was coming off a 26-point night against Westover, finished with 11 points. Anderson scored seven in the first quarter and finished with nine points, and Tyrone Culbreth had a big night with 10 points and 10 rebounds as Albany High dominated on the boards, outrebounding Mitchell, 35-22. Albany High also forced Mitchell, which lives on its quickness and defense, into 19 turnovers.
“The rebounding was big for us,’’ Chatmon said. “And we played good defense. We usually play good defense.’’
And they usually win — with or without a trip through Baconton.
ALBANY HIGH GIRLS 63, MITCHELL COUNTY 46: There weren’t any red and green bows and ribbons, but the package looked pretty all the same.
“The kids told the coaches this is our Christmas gift to you,’’ Albany High coach Telly Turner said. “So that was our gift: points, rebounds, blocks and playing defense. We’re not playing again until January, so this was our Christmas gift.’’
It might have been Albany’s best game of the season. The Squaws, who have lost only to Herald No. 1 Westover and Herald No. 2 Dougherty, are much better than their 3-3 record.
They jumped out to a 33-14 halftime lead and never looked back as junior Monique Perkins had a career game, blocking nine shots. She also grabbed nine rebounds and added six points.
“She had a great game,’’ Turner said. “She blocked a lot of shots early in the game. She really had a good game.’’
So did just about everyone who took the court for Albany High. Herald Super 6er Chasity Mullins led the way with 14 points, and Keisha Jackson (13 points) and Briana Williams (11) also put up double figures. Eight players scored for Albany.
“This was our best game as far as hustling and as far as everybody playing a good game,’’ Mullins said. ‘We’re getting there. It’s going to take time, but we’re getting there.’’
Mitchell (2-3) was led by sophomore Shonbreka Holton (12 points) and senior De’Ericka Lyons (11 points). The Lady Eagles had their chances to cut into the lead, but made only 17 of 36 free throws.
And Albany High scored from every direction.
“The thing that I’m most proud of is the contributions from everybody,’’ Turner said. “That was our best game as far as everybody contributing. It was a nice Christmas gift.’’