Sandies Hammer Wildcats, 65-43
By Will Johnson
DALLARDSVILLE – It’s funny how things work out sometimes. The Big Sandy Wildcats slipped into Grapeland on Jan. 23 and eased out of town with a 59-56 win. It was a game the Sandies should have won.
The thinking at that time was the Sandies run of district championships might be over. The rematch was scheduled for Feb. 9 in Dallardsville and the conventional wisdom was the Wildcats would run away with the game on their home court.
But, as legendary ESPN broadcaster Lee Corso was fond of saying, “Not so fast, my friend!” The Sandies came out and blistered the Wildcats in the game’s opening quarter by a score of 17-4 and sauntered out of Dallardsville – tied for first place in District 20-2A – following their 65-43 win.
Deco Bryant and Rick Frauenberger led the offensive charge for Grapeland with six points apiece in the first eight minutes of the game. BJ Howard added four and Javion Joseph closed out the Grapeland point production with a free throw.
While the offense was running smoothly, it was the Grapeland defense which had Big Sandy twisted up in knots. The Sandies held the Wildcats to four points on a three-pointer from Case Sutherland and a single free throw from Cole Foster.
As the second quarter got underway, the Sandies kept up their torrid pace and pushed their lead to 21 by the end of the first half. Joseph dropped in a pair of threes to go along with a two for eight points. Keizion Ashford also drained a three while Bryant, Howard and Josh Ackley all had two points.
While the Wildcats doubled their point production from the first to the second period, by the end of the half they trailed 34-13. Big Sandy’s points came from Isaiah Thompson with five and Britton Dickens as well as George Foster with two.
During halftime, it seemed as if Coach Cannon Earp reminded the Sandies about what had happened the last time the two teams met. In the first game between the two, the Sandies squandered a 10 point halftime lead, built it back to nine at the end of the third quarter but let Big Sandy hang around and drill a game-winning shot with under two seconds remaining.
Friday night’s game was a different story, however, as the Sandies continued to pad the lead and closed out the quarter up by a score of 50-24. Frauenberger had six points in the quarter and was joined by Ashford with four. Bryant, Howard and Tyrin Wiley all had two to bring the quarter to a close.
Seven of the third quarter Wildcat points came from the charity stripe as Thompson was six-for-six from the line while Dickens connected on one of two. The other four points came from Kyle Hathaway.
With eight minutes remaining on the clock, the Sandies eased up a little on both sides of the ball. Howard drained a pair of threes and Bryant had five. Ashford and Joseph added two apiece as the Sandies won by a score of 65-43.
For the game, Grapeland was led by four players in double figures. Deco Bryant dropped in 15, BJ Howard netted 14, Rick Frauenberger had 12 and Javion Joseph went for 11. Keizion Ashford added nine and both Josh Ackley and Tyrin Wiley had two.
The Wildcats were led by Isaiah Thompson with 18 points. Britton Dickens had seven, Kyle Hathaway scored six and Cole Foster had five. Case Sutherland had three and George Foster chipped in two to close out point production for Big Sandy.
Grapeland and Big Sandy were both favored to win their games on Tuesday, but as of press time, the scores were not available.
If both teams win as expected, it will force a one-game play-in game to see who heads into the playoffs as the number one seed from District 20-2A.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.