McKenzie falls to Luverne in tourney

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 3, 2005

The McKenzie School Tigers had their second taste of tournament basketball when then took the floor in the Red Level basketball tournament. The Tigers took the court first against the homestanding Red Level Tigers and were out matched.

Red Level raced to an uncontested 81-44 victory.

In the consolation round, however, McKenzie put up more of a fight.

The Tigers faced a set of Gamecocks from New Brocton in the first round of consolation.

Although the opponents were different, the result was the same.

The Tigers and 'Cocks stood toe to toe and with 7:15 left in the third quarter found themselves in a tie game.

"We scored seven points right there in about a minute," said James Brown, coach of the Tigers.

"We couldn't put the ball through the hoop to save our lives the rest of the quarter. That turned out to be what hurt us. It was the first and third quarters that killed us."

The Gamecocks jumped out to an early 20-19 lead at the end of the first quarter and expanded it to a 32-27 halftime lead.

McKenzie, led by Rhett Lowe, David Davison, Travis Bush and Sattrick Rudolph battled back to tie the game in the third quarter and then couldn't hit a basket for the duration of the quarter.

"We start slow and they figured out by the end of the first quarter that we could play with those guys and we outscored them 17-12 in the second quarter," said Brown.

"We get out there in the third and get a couple of steals and Rhett takes them the length of the floor and it was 32-32 and then it was like the air went out of the cell and we couldn't do anything right."

New Brocton reclaimed their lead at the end of the third quarter 41-34 and then claimed the game, 49-41 in the fourth quarter.

But, depth became a problem for Brown and his Tigers in the final period of play Tuesday night.

"I took six kids down there today," said Brown.

"We finished the ball game with four ball players with about a minute to go. I had David Davison foul out, the second player of the game to foul out. Davison fouled out on a spin that the ref's called a charge. "

"I guess he had his forearm up or something. Bush fouled out first. But, they put their heart and soul, everything they had into that game."

Lowe finished the night with 14 points. Bush recorded his third double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Davison finished the night with 10 points and Rudolph ended the game with six.

"I'm running a little different offense trying to take some of the air out of the ball," said Brown. "The big thing for our team is that we are finally doing some of the things that we are being coached to do. We just need to do them more effectively. Out of my big three I got 35, that's 10 shy of what I needed from them."

McKenzie takes the court today at 10:30 in their final game of the Red Level Tournament. They will square off with Luverne.

"We are going to get there and before the this season is over we are going to be a better basketball team," said Brown. "We have no breaks and we are not going backwards. We just can't afford to miss opportunities."

The Tigers from Crenshaw County also suffered a first round loss, theirs to Florala.

Thursday morning, the Tigers took the floor with a cheering section behind them.

But, the result was still the same. Luverne and McKenzie both entered into the game with two losses.

And once again for McKenzie, depth became an issue. The Tigers had six players take the court while Luverne had twice as many, they had 13 on their roster.

Luverne won the opening tip and carried it down the court, but were turned away by the squad from McKenzie. Rhett Lowe scored and that was the only score for the Tigers as Luverne raced up and down the court stretching out to 12-3 lead. McKenzie fought back and cut the lead to four as the first period came to a close, 14-10.

The second period was the same scenario as the first. McKenzie clawed their way back into contention but, Luverne strung together a run that swelled their lead to 12, 32-20 at the half.

"We are in a state of dysfunction," said Brown. "We won't box out and rebound. We won't run the floor when we need to run the floor. I guess we are fundamentally dysfunctional and we can't spend enough time on it because there is not enough time in the day. If we were practicing three hours a day instead of two that might help but if we did that then we wouldn't have time to write the English papers and history papers."

The second half was a completely different story as Mckenzie was unable to cut the lead and ended up falling to the squad from Luverne, 77-50.

The Tigers tried to string together a run of their own at the end of the game. Following a series of missed three-points from his teammates, center Travis Bush pushed the ball to the top of the key and then launched it. The ball found the bottom of the net and cute the lead to 33, 68-35.

Rhett Lowe put up seven points and a three pointer to cut in to the Luverne lead. At the end of the game though, the Tigers had a firm grasp of the lead. McKenzie found themselves on the low end of the score, 77-50.

While the Tigers put 50 points on the board during the game, they also gave the ball away 19 times and a majority of those led to scores by Luverne.

David Davison finished the day with 17 points and five defensive rebounds.

Luverne was led in scoring by Fred Hawkins, with 18 points. Macklin Burnett and Pat Parks added a combined 28 points.

"These guys play hard and they had a close game, but Luverne just blew up on us. Six kids came down here and played their hearts out two out of three days and we just didn't have enough gas in the tank."

After that, the Tigers will be back in regular season action Jan. 4 at Georgiana when they play host to Brantley.

Tip off for that game is set for 4:30 with all three squads playing.

"If the fans are there, the kids will go out and learn what they are supposed to do and we will begin to win ball games," said Brown.

"Folks will start jumping on the wagon and it will be a positive upswing. We've got some ballgames coming along right now that we can win if we can get that little pat on the back we will succeed."