Dougherty’s Michael Miller, left, puts the clamps on Worth County’s Brandon Moore during Friday’s big Region 1-AAAA showdown in Albany. Worth, which had won four straight, lost, 62-52. Miller led DOCO with 19 points.
ALBANY — Donald Poole loves that “play as a team” mantra. He got it Friday night in a 62-52 region win against red-hot Worth County.
“We played hard the whole game,” Poole said. “I’m looking for that intensity to the end. We needed a gut check.”
Worth County had been on a four-game win streak while looking for payback from earlier losses in the season. Doughtery was one of those teams to knock the Rams off early, and they figured out how to do it against Friday behind a game-high 19 points from Michael Miller and solid contributions from all over the roster, including 15 points from senior Tavarius Nelson.
“We’re starting to get stronger,” Nelson said of the Trojans, who are back in the top five in the Region 1-AAAA standings with two games to play.
Plus, Worth’s long-ball shooters went cold after the first half. Rams sharpshooter Justin Green went 2-for-4 from 3-point land in the first half and scored 10 points, but no Worth County player hit a trey in the second as Green finished with 12.
“Coach told us to play hard defensively on them because they love to shoot,” Nelson said.
Trojans big man Tevin Smith took over late, scoring six of his nine points in the fourth quarter, which began with Dougherty (5-7 Region 1-AAAA) leading just 40-37. Smith had a huge put-back dunk off a miss during a 10-0 run to open the fourth that handed Dougherty a 50-37 lead with 4:41 to play.
“Of course we wanted the (win) streak to continue, but Dougherty took care of business and did what they had to do,” Worth County head coach Arthur Davis said. “They’re pretty strong inside with (Smith) and (Miller).”
Smith added eight rebounds and two blocks for the Trojans.
Worth (12-10, 5-7 Region 1-AAAA) never got closer than nine in the final four minutes and led for only 13 seconds in the game after overcoming an early double-digit deficit.
Dougherty led by 11 in the first half before the Rams went a 12-0 run, capped by Lavonte Robinson’s jumper with 2:22 left before half to give Worth a 26-24 lead. Dougherty rebounded and took a 29-26 lead at the break before going ahead 40-31 in the third, but Worth responded again with a 6-0 run to close the period.
“We figured out (in the fourth) we needed to take care of the ball,” Poole said.
Robinson scored 10 in the loss for Worth, while senior Tim Gaint was held to two points after Smith came down hard on him in the first half and Gaint had to be checked out in the locker room before returning. The shots never fell after that for Worth.
“From the outside we didn’t shoot the ball as well as I had hoped,” Davis said. “But I still feel good about it. We played hard.”
Worth plays host to Calhoun County today in non-region play and then goes to Westover on Tuesday. Dougherty welcomes Cairo on Tuesday.
DOUGHERTY GIRLS 71, WORTH COUNTY 19: Turnover-prone Worth County had a disastrous first quarter and Dougherty’s girls took full advantage in a landslide region win. The Lady Rams’ turned the ball over 18 times in their 24 first-quarter possessions and Dougherty (13-5, 10-2 Region 1-AAAA) took a 28-4 lead after one and led 48-7 at half.
Lady Trojans’ guard Quannesha Gatling led the way with 20 points and seven steals in the first half alone and finished with a game-high 21. Ra’Keta Shelton scored 19 points and added 16 rebounds in the win, while Amber Ward chipped in with 13.
Worth County (3-18, 1-12 region) was led by Andrea Davis’ six points and five rebounds.