Aliceville Stings Pickens County
Tony Stewart and Keanthony Wilder led the Aliceville Yellow Jackets to a 51-41 victory over their crosstown rivals, the Pickens County Tornadoes. In the game, Stewart tallied 15 points and pulled down five rebounds, while Wilder finished with 14 points, two rebounds, and three steals.
The Yellow Jackets went on a 17-point run to grab the lead after Aliceville fell 8-2 early in the game at a crowded Pickens County gym that hardly had room to park, sit, or stand. Aliceville had a solid first half, leading 27-16 at halftime, and never looked back.
The Yellow Jackets outscored the Tornadoes 18-8 in the second quarter. Pickens County's offensive was muted by Aliceville's defense, which limited them to less than 35% shooting. Even in situations where they had decent shots and offensive rebounds to give them second chances, the Tornadoes found it difficult to finish in the paint.
Aliceville scored in the paint at will. On their two-point attempts, they were 13–26. For the Yellow Jackets, Wilder and guard Darian Johnston each drained several three-pointers. Late in the second quarter, Wilder made a four-point play that depleted the home crowd's energy while igniting the cheering group of visitors.
"We could've done a lot better," head coach Chris Walker said. "The good part was we weathered the storm and didn't panic once we started playing terribly as a team. For the most part, I think we could've played more complete."
The Yellow Jackets made five three-point shots in the game; however, most of the scoring came from the paint and at the foul line. Stewart was at the line frequently. He made eight of 12 free throws, and Aliceville had 20 total attempts.
"As leaders, that's what they are supposed to do," Walker said. "Not so much as to put your team on your back, but we expect you to lead, and for the most part, they step out front."
Senior forward Tyquan Simons had nine rebounds in addition to 10 points and two huge blocks that got the crowd hyped in his first game back with the team. Senior center Lamark Richardson was a force on the floor, leading the game with 10 rebounds.
Kemaurion Plott led Pickens County in scoring with 24 points. For the Tornadoes, Plott was the only player who could establish himself offensively. When his teammates would try to go in the paint, shots would not fall for them. Xzavian Hood grabbed nine rebounds, six of which were offensive rebounds, to help the Tornadoes maintain a strong rebounding position despite the poor shooting performance.
The reigning Class-A state champions are still figuring out this new team and their identity. Walker does not want his players to make comparisons to the group from the previous year. He wants them to concentrate on this year and attempt to resolve some of the issues that may cause problems in the future.
"We try not to compare to last year," Walker said. "We just have to show up and be ourselves every night. As long as we show up and trust the process, we'll be in good situations to win games."
Last season, Aliceville won the school's first state championship, but like most champions, you want to relive that feeling. Getting one won't satisfy you in the slightest. It will take time and leadership from those who were a part of history the previous year for them to get back to that point.
Aliceville will be in action again this Tuesday as they host a red-hot Hale County squad. Pickens County will be in action two days before Christmas.
Aliceville vs Pickens Co.
Gallery Credit: Jalen Prince/Jyesha Nance