Tigers tossed from Troy

Published 1:38 am Wednesday, February 18, 2009

TROY — Houston County’s Dominique Pledger scored a career high 35 points Tuesday night to lead his team past Red Level at the South Regional tournament in Troy, winning 82-68.

“It just felt like if I didn’t play my best and play the best as a team it would be our last game of the season,” Pledger said. “I didn’t want that. I just kept telling the players just let the game come to them. I didn’t feel like my shots were going to fall like they were.”

Red Level came out in the first half, dominating from the floor with D.J. Sankey and Luke Sharp putting up clutch field goals and 3-pointers.

Sankey and Sharp led the Tigers (22-9) in scoring. Sankey had 24 points, while Sharp put up 15.

Red Level went into the second quarter up 20-15 and continued to lead, 35-33, heading into halftime.

Red Level coach Fred Kelley said Houston County shot the ball very well Tuesday night.

“They put on a good shooting clinic,” Kelley said. “I thought we had a good defensive scheme in the first half. We contained them on the transition ball.

“We really thought we could keep them from getting easy buckets and break their pressure. We did that in the second half, but (Pledger) had a great second half for them. We knew we had to play mistake-free ball. We just sort of ran out of gas.”

Red Level was 25-for-46 from the field, while Houston County shot 29-for-47.

Houston County’s Jazerek Peterson scored 15 points and Edward Robinson added 12. Pledger was 13-for-20 from the field and had six rebounds.

Kelley said that despite the loss, he was proud of the leadership on his team.

“I’m real proud of the seniors,” he said. “We had five seniors that stepped up and got us here to the regionals. They did a great job and Houston County has a great team. I’m proud of our boys and we’ve got a program and are going to continue to build on it.”

Kelley said his team has not made it out of the first round at regionals for some time.

“These boys have played hard and it has been six out of eight years that we have been to the regional and not gotten out of the first round,” he said. “I’m just glad we had the chance.”

Houston County coach Emanuel Brown said his team needed every bit of Pledger’s help going into the second half.

“He really stepped up tonight and I can’t say enough about his leadership,” Brown said. “He just carried us on his back and just put us through (to the regional finals). He really did.”

In the third quarter, the Lions (30-5) put up 27 points compared to Red Level’s 16.

Brown said he did not say anything to Pledger at halftime.

“Anytime a player is in a zone like that, you try not to say anything to them,” he said. “We talked about stepping it up defensively. (Red Level has) some great shooters; we were trying to keep a hand in their face.”

“I didn’t want to shoot as much as I was, I just wanted to get the ball to my teammates,” Pledger said.

Houston County will face Barbour County Friday at 2 p.m.