ALBANY -- Prior to Friday night's crucial Region 1-AA showdown with Cook County, Albany coach Archie Chatmon said the team that rebounded the best would be the winner of what he expected to be a close, low-scoring contest.
He was two-thirds right.
The Indians, led by 12 boards from Jibri Jimmerson, outrebounded Cook, 36-24, and had three players score in double figures as Albany rolled to a 53-32 rout of the Hornets to take sole possession of second place in the region with four regular-season region games remaining.
Larry Sanford and Kenneth Anderson led the way for Albany (10-7 overall, 6-2 in 1-AA) with 12 points each, while Tim Pierce added 10. Cook, which fell to 6-5 and 4-2, got 16 points from Chris Bryant, but big man Jerome Hill, who was the key in the Hornets' one-point home win against Albany three weeks ago, was held to just seven points and was never a factor on the boards.
"We knew coming into the game we had to rebound well and control Jerome," said Chatmon. "I don't know if this wasn't our most complete game of the year. We rebounded well, we played well on defense, we shot decently and we hit our free throws."
Chatmon then added: "Aside from scoring a few more points, I can't think of a thing we needed to do better (Friday night). Look at the scoreboard, we beat a pretty good team by 21 points and held them to 32 points."
Cook scored the first four points of the game, but the Indians answered with an 11-0 run to break on top, 11-4, with 2:26 remaining in the opening period.
AHS would never give up the lead again.
The Indians led, 22-14, at the half and hit nine straight free throws in the third quarter, while converting three Cook turnovers into points to push their lead to 39-26 heading into the final period.
"I feel good in a lot of ways about this game," said Chatmon, who has a long-standing policy to not let his players talk to the media. "We had a lot of good things happen for us to beat that team the way we did (Friday night). We executed offensively, we executed defensively and did all the little things right."
The Indians put the hammer down in the fourth period, outscoring Cook, 14-6 ,with reserve Dezmond Newberry coming in to bury a 3-pointer with 1:05 remaining, pushing Albany's lead to 22 points -- its largest of the night.
"As I said earlier, I don't think we can play any better than we did," Chatmon said.
Albany will face cross-town rival Dougherty tonight at the Albany Civic Center, while Cook next entertains Lowndes in Adel.
COOK GIRLS 44, AHS 41:
In the girls game, Cook's Meosha Williams scored the game's final five points with two minutes remaining as the Lady Hornets rallied from two points down to beat the struggling Squaws.
Albany, which fell to 4-9 and 1-4 with the loss, was led by 11 points from Briana Williams, while Cook, which improved to 6-5 and 1-4, was paced by nine points from Meosha Williams.