Andalusia wins Invitational

Published 11:59 pm Monday, December 15, 2008

The Andalusia Bulldogs capped the 42nd annual Andalusia Invitational Saturday night, winning the championship over Enterprise 74-53. The victory snapped Enterprise’s streak of five straight titles in the tournament.

Andalusia and Enterprise last met on Nov. 21, where the Bulldogs (10-0) claimed a one-point 74-73 overtime, buzzer-beater win over the Wildcats.

Andalusia’s Nico Johnson led his team by scoring 34 of the 74 points Saturday night. Johnson also had 15 rebounds and seven steals.

Other leading scorers for Andalusia were O’Brien Curry with 16 points and Brandon Sims with 11.

The Bulldogs started the game by getting off to a quick 8-2 lead with 4:30 left in the first.

“When we started the first quarter, we looked fine,” Andalusia coach Richard Robertson said. “We were going by the plan and all of a sudden we had a wild half. Than we started doing things we don’t have to do.

“We let (Enterprise) back in it with an 11 to 12 point lead and then they cut it to six,” he said. “That’s been our problem all year and again at the end we got a big lead and let them cut it to eight or nine points. We were in our spread offense and then we got in a hurry.”

The Bulldogs’ momentum quickened as Andalusia increased its lead to 11 with 3:09 left in the opening quarter.

The Wildcats only managed seven points in the first quarter, and trailed 19-7 heading into the second quarter.

Later in the second, Enterprise ran into some foul trouble and only put up nine additional points, compared to Andalusia’s 10.

Robertson said his team still strives to control the tempo in each game.

“That’s our purpose every game we play,” he said. “We want to play at our tempo and execute the way we want to do. If we’ve got a 15-point lead, you need to be patient and run the clock. The clock is our ally.

“We worked on it (Saturday) afternoon down on the floor in isolating our pick man,” he said. “Nico was the sprinter on getting down the court because (Enterprise) doesn’t have a true five man. They have threes and fours and they were down pressing. We got it out to him.”

As Andalusia saw the championship title grow closer nearing the end of the game, Enterprise never came within 10 points of the Bulldogs’ lead.

Andalusia pulled ahead by 13 points in the third with 2:37 left and then in the fourth, the Bulldogs sealed the deal by making layup after layup to win by 24 points.

Robertson said he is proud of the caliber of play his players demonstrated Saturday, but also said there is still more work that needs to be done.

“We played hard and our lapse wasn’t as big as it has been,” Robertson said. “We broke down a time or two. They passed out of it and we gave up cheap baskets. I don’t want any uncontested baskets.

“We’re still making too many mistakes at this point,” he said. “I’m proud to be undefeated, but we still didn’t get the job done that we wanted to have done. If you’re going to win, you’ve got to get it to the basket.”

Andalusia’s Nico Johnson was named the Most Valuable Player in the invitational, tying former Bulldog and current NBA free agent Robert Horry at three times apiece.

Johnson was also named to the 2008 Andalusia Invitational all tournament team along with Andalusia’s Brandon Sims and O’Brien Curry, Florala’s Zac Fleming, Pleasant Home’s Ethan King, Opp’s Gavin Free, Enterprise’s Rhett Harrelson, Tony Gray and Brian Joseph Davis; Elba’s Gavin Respress, and Charles Henderson’s Darrious Wilson and Justin Davis.

In earlier action Friday night, Opp beat Florala, 45-31, and Andalusia defeated Pleasant Home, 71-24.