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After rough start to season, Worth County boys hoops team wins fourth straight, getting hot at right time

SYLVESTER — Two years ago in Arthur Davis’ second season as head coach at Worth County, the Rams not only won 12 games and made the state playoffs, but they beat traditional Albany city power Monroe.

Year 3, meanwhile, was a setback not even Davis saw coming.

“It was rough,” Davis said of the Rams’ 8-18 mark in 2011-12 that included a 1-11 region record and 10 straight losses to close the season. “We came out of that season knowing we had to work hard to get that respect back. We wanted teams to respect us again.”

And slowly but surely, they’re doing just that.

On Tuesday night, Worth not only knocked off recent Herald Fab 5 Poll team Albany High, 59-53, but the win marked Worth County’s fourth in a row and fifth in its last six games following an 8-9 start to the year that included a blowout loss to Class A Calhoun County and a pair of thumpings by Herald No. 1 Monroe and No. 2 Westover.

So what changed?

“Everything. Better defense. Better offense. Just a better understanding of what we’re trying to do. It’s like it just clicked (in my players’ heads),” said Davis, whose Rams (12-9, 6-6) are finally above .500 for the first time in more than a year. “I’m seeing execution on the court I haven’t seen all year — and it’s a good feeling.”

The win against Albany also pushed Worth from the bottom of the region standings two weeks ago to firmly in the No. 4 spot with four regular-season games left.

And while red-hot Worth will get a chance to avenge two of those early season losses in their final four games — first against Dougherty on Friday and then against Calhoun County on Saturday — Davis knows keeping that win streak alive beyond that won’t be easy as the Rams close the season against Westover and Monroe, which have a combined record of 35-7.

“My kids are looking forward to all those games because I feel like we’ve made teams take notice of us again,” the fourth-year coach said. “We’re working hard to get that respect back, and the only way we can do it is to hopefully stay on our little run and take (momentum) into the region tournament.”

Timothy Gaint led the way in Tuesday’s win with 12 points, followed by a double-double from freshman Brandon Moore. Davis made a special mention of senior Lavonte Robinson, who scored nine.

“He’s working hard. I mean, really, all of them are. We’re playing as a team, playing together,” he said. “No one’s being selfish, and that’s all I can ask.”