SYLVESTER — Entering Tuesday’s game, Worth County head coach Arthur Davis had admonished his players in practice about playing well in pressure situations.
Tuesday night the Herald No. 4 Rams had their chance to put to work what they learned in a seesaw game against No. 5 Albany.
Led by Anfrenee McLemore’s 22 points, the Rams demonstrated that the tension that comes in a close game was not too much for them as they topped Albany, 55-46, at home.
The Rams have now won six in a row after a season-opening loss.
“I just think we played well as a team,” McLemore said. “Everyone has been working hard in practice and putting in a little extra work to get better.”
KenDarius Collier finished second in scoring for the Rams with 11 points, while Brandon Moore just missed double figures with nine points.
“The game goes how the game goes, and you just have to flow with it and continue to work on defense,” Moore said when asked if he thought his team would pull away from the Indians.
Albany had to put its best foot forward without star player Dezmond Newberry, who left the contest early in the first quarter with an unspecified hand injury. Missed free throws throughout the game ultimately cost the Indians a chance to win.
“The difference is simple, they made free throws and we didn’t,” Albany head coach Archie Chatmon asserted. “We can hang our hats on the fact that we played well enough to win the game. They didn’t quit even though we played a heck of a team in a hostile area, and I am proud of them.”
Tyler Cheese led the way for Albany (2-2) with 17 points. Malik Dungee-Ali scored eight points and Adarius Mingo and Javier Coley chipped in five points apiece.
Notwithstanding Newberry’s departure, the Rams did not take their competition lightly.
“Whenever you play a team from Albany you have to know that they are going to play their heart out,” McLemore said. “You just have to push a little harder than them and keep it going.”
Worth County girls hold off Albany High
SYLVESTER — The game started ugly with neither Albany nor Worth County’s girls basketball teams scoring a single point in the first three and a half minutes.
Then Worth County’s Andrea Williams scored the first basket of the contest, and the Lady Rams’ put together an early run that eventually turned into a narrow 49-41 victory against the winless Lady Indians Tuesday night at Worth County.
The ability to move the ball effectively proved to be a huge factor in Worth County building a big lead. An 18-6 run to start the game soon turned into a 28-12 halftime score.
“We started moving the ball around on offense instead of just playing individual ball,” Worth County head coach John Popham said. “You have to move the ball around and get it in the hands of your shooters. Then our post players started making layups, and when you do that you’ll be able to build a lead.”
Plagued by missed layups, careless mistakes and an overall lack of intensity, Albany (0-6) had little ammunition to use against the Lady Rams (2-5) during the first three quarters. The Lady Indians, however, found life during the fourth quarter at the free throw line.
“We kind of got going because we knocked down some free throws and were able to chip away at the lead,” said Albany head coach Telly Turner, whose team outscored Worth County in the final quarter, 17-10. “But by the time they realized that they could actually play with this team, it was too late.”
Ball movement built the lead for the Lady Rams, but it was defense that sustained it.
“Our defense was spot on, so every time we got a rebound we were able to pass it and get up court to make shots,” said Lindsey Toneygay, who finished with nine points.
Popham added: “We started working harder on defense, and that’s my motto — work hard on defense and offense will come.”
Much of the offense came from Briana Farley, who had a team-high 15 points. Williams scored eight points, and Kristavia Milton contributed seven points for the Lady Rams.
“Communication is key; you have to communicate to win basketball games,” Milton said. “From there it’s about taking care of the ball.”
Julyssa Brown was Albany’s leading scorer with 17 points. China Marcus chipped in eight points, and Alondra Calhoun added six points.
Turner said she hopes the late-game run will be something her team uses as motivation going forward.
“Knowing that they could have realistically pulled this win off, and to not have pulled it off (hopefully) will make them hungry (in the future),” she said.