Photo finish

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Straughn’s Austin Pickrel led with 13 points Monday night to help his team edge Elba, 60-58.

With less than three minutes left in the contest, there was a momentum shift in the game. Pickrel scored six of his 13 points in that short amount of time. His last jumper came with 16.7 seconds left to give his team the two-point win.

In addition, Straughn’s James Byrd also had a good night with 12 points, two of which came at the 54-second mark on a dunk.

“This was a grow-up game,” a relieved Straughn coach Todd Reynolds said. “This was a gut-check game. This is the game you wait on that maybe you can turn a corner. That’s the significance of this game.

“They’ve had that (intensity) within them this whole dadgum time,” he said. “It’s about time to show it. That was just some quality execution there in the clutch.”

Straughn was down 29-25 at halftime and trailed 42-33 at the end of the third quarter.

All throughout the fourth quarter, Reynolds kept urging his players to “step up” and finish the game.

“We came out with this game with a credo of four quarters — putting four quarters together,” Reynolds said. “We still didn’t that game. We put together about three-and-a-half. Give credit to the players. They sucked it up. We did a couple things we haven’t worked on a lot, but necessity brought them out.”

Straughn’s C.J. Christopher and Caleb Cochran also finished in double figures Monday night. Christopher finished with 11 points and Cochran had 10.

The Tigers were 18-of-28 at the free throw line.

In the first half of play, Elba took a 7-4 early lead and led into the second quarter, 13-8.

Reynolds said the coaching staff’s halftime adjustments made a big difference late in the game.

“The full-court press we used in the fourth quarter helped them out a lot,” he said. “They were making some clutch shots. We had to literally grind to get ours. I saw some people step up tonight.

“I saw some significant step up in all of them,” he said. “I like that tempo. If we’re going to be a physical team, then we’re going to have to be physical.”