ALBANY -- After their leading scorer, Ramello Carter graduated, Deerfield boys’ coach Gordy Gruhl was well aware that returning players would have to step up to defend their region title.
In a 78-58 victory in their season opener Tuesday against Glenwood (Ala.) Academy, the Knights looked more than ready to do just that.
“This team has worked as hard as any that I’ve had in a long time,” Gruhl said. “Preparing for this season, we’ve had a lot of guys to step up off the bench and play well in starting roles. We have to keep building on this. It’s a long road, nobody cares how you start, it’s how you finish. We’ll use this to build on.”
The Knights grabbed 15 rebounds and forced 13 turnovers.
“We talked about keeping them out of the lane, our guards did a good job of that,” Gruhl said. “We did a great job on the boards, our [post players] did a great job boxing out and keeping their big guys off the glass. They did all the things you’re supposed to do. They were patient and they executed well, when you do that, you win the game.”
The Knights jumped out on a 10-2 run to start the game, and even though the Gators would rally back to make things competitive, once Christian Wallace hit a jumper to beat the buzzer before the break, pushing their lead to 15, it seemed like nothing could go wrong for the home team.
At one point, the Knights held an 18-point lead, but with just over three minutes left in regulation, the Gators had cut the margin in half. When it was all said and done, however, it was too much for Glenwood to overcome.
“We really did play well (Tuesday) night,” Gruhl said. “We played with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. I though we kept our composure. They made a few runs at us, and we were able to hold those runs off. We played four outstanding quarters of basketball, and that’s what you’ve got to do to beat a team of that caliber. They’re awful good.”
Deerfield was led by senior guard Dee Barber, who finished with 20 points, 11 of which came from the foul line. His brother Jay Barber added 12 points. Chap Ivey added 13 points. Senior forward Justin Eady manned the paint for the Knights, contributing 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists.
The loss was Glenwood’s first of the season. They fell to 3-1.
Lady Knights drop home opener to Glenwood
ALBANY — The downside to cultivating veteran teams in any prep sport is that eventually, they’ll have to graduate.
The Deerfield-Windsor girls basketball team rolled to the GISA Region 1-AAA title last year behind a group of seniors — but it’s a new season now, and the pressure is on the youthful Lady Knights to pick up where they left off.
Head coach Jeff Eubanks and the Lady Knights (1-3) are now led by sophomore guard Nyla Perry, but unfortunately for the home crowd on Tuesday, her effort wasn’t enough as visiting Glenwood from Alabama left with a 43-29 victory in Deerfield’s home opener.
The Lady Gators kept Deerfield out of the post all night, thanks to a dominant performance by center Tamera York. York led a defense that forced 12 turnovers in the first half alone, snatching down seven rebounds and three blocks before the break.
“Our effort’s getting better,” Eubanks said, “but we’re still turning the ball over too much to be competitive. Some of it was because of nerves, some were bad decisions. Hopefully they’ll get better.”
Perry did the majority of her damage in the painted area last season, and the Lady Gators seemed to be well aware of that. Perry went scoreless in the first half, as Glenwood’s post presence kept her on the perimeter for most of the game. The Lady Gators jumped out to a 22-7 lead at halftime and showed no plans of looking back.
“We’ve got some girls back from last year and a few new girls,” Eubanks said. “We’ve had a little trouble with our zone offense right now. That comes with time. (Glenwood’s) one of the favored teams in Alabama. It doesn’t get any easier for us either. We play Stratford, then we play Tatnall, the defending champions on Saturday. It’s all about learning and getting better.”
Perry finished with 11 points (five of which came from the charity stripe) and five rebounds in a losing effort. Libby Greene added 11 points of her own. The defense did well, but the offense gave the visitors too many opportunities to pull ahead, finishing with 23 turnovers as opposed to the Lady Gators’ 11.
“I think our defense did well,” Eubanks said, “but you can’t play defense all day and not score. We had a drought for about five or six minutes at one point. Hopefully that’ll get better when we get some games under our belt.”
Tamera McClain led the Lady Gators with 10 points, while Tamera York finished with eight points and 10 rebounds.