Albany High’s Malik Dungee-Ali (12) drives past Mitchell County’s Tronell Chester (1) Saturday night at Mitchell County High School. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
CAMILLA — During the closing seconds of the third quarter, the Mitchell County High School gymnasium began to erupt into a series of cheers.
The fans chanted “Fire it up, Eagles, fire it up, hey,” trying to help their home team in a tight game against Albany High. The Eagles had whittled a 19-point deficit down to four on a pair of consecutive baskets from freshman Demetrius Jones.
However, Mitchell could not sustain that momentum into the final quarter as the Indians allowed them to convert on just two baskets to take a 76-56 victory in a nonregion game for both teams.
Albany (11-5) sank 13-of-19 from the free throw line in the final quarter to seal the victory. After coach Archie Chatmon was disappointed with his team during a lackluster third quarter, he did find reason to praise them after they stepped up, cut down Mitchell’s momentum and turned an otherwise tight game into a solid victory.
“That is what we had been looking for in that fourth quarter,” Chatmon said. “The things we did in the fourth quarter were things we haven’t been doing. The momentum they had in the third quarter, then playing well in the fourth quarter was the one nugget we could take from this game.”
After the Indians took a one-point victory last Saturday night at Albany High, they took control early and seemed to be in control when they pushed their lead to 19 points on a jumper from Malik Dungee-Ali at the 5:26 mark in the third.
But freshman DisArrius Robinson ignited a 9-0 run during a 23-second span late in the third, sinking two three-point baskets to trim Albany’s lead to 49-41 with 2:01 left.
However, DeAndre Hamilton sank a layup at the 1:52 mark to push the lead back to double figures.
Jones converted a three-point play before Javier Coley drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key as Albany answered. But Robinson and Hamilton helped the Eagles end the third on a 6-0 run to trail just 54-50 heading into the final quarter.
Jamarcus Williams continued Mitchell’s momentum seconds into the final quarter, drilling a basket from the corner. But Mitchell went dry, hitting just one more basket from the floor the rest of the game as Albany slowly took control.
For the Eagles who returned just one starter from last season’s team, coach Eric Gervin was especially happy with his team considering the loss. He said Mitchell’s furious comeback in the third was triggered by freshmen Robinson, Jones, Williams, Stedman Hicks and Armoni Burkes.
“We’re just trying to get our group to play cohesively,” Gervin said. “To see our young guys play with that kind of intensity and tenacity, that was very positive. We’re trying to find those fill-in guys to help support the team.”
Tyler Cheese led Albany with 18 points, including a strong fourth quarter. Joe Stone and Dungee-Ali added 12 points apiece for the Indians.
“It was good to see our veterans get us in our game plan in the fourth quarter,” Chatmon said. “That was the difference.”
Mitchell was led by Jones’ 16 points and Robinson’s 14.
MITCHELL COUNTY GIRLS 82, ALBANY 29: Mitchell County built a big lead early and coasted to an easy win over the Lady Squaws on Saturday night.
Albany (1-16) was led by Alondra Calhoun and China Marcus, who finished with eight points each.
The Lady Eagles (13-4) placed four players in double figures. Shonbreka Holton led the way with a game-high 25 points. Aaliyah Childs added 16, A’Miracle Jones finished with 15 while Deaundra Hill added 14.
The Lady Indians are off until Friday when they visit Westover. Mitchell County is at Lee County on Tuesday.