By Jeff Eubanks
WATER VALLEY – “Enjoy this! Enjoy this!,” said John Sherman, head coach of the Water Valley Blue Devils basketball team, during a timeout in the closing two minutes of the game against Eupora Friday, January 11 at W.V.H.S gymnasium. The Blue Devils had just overcome an eight point deficit to take the lead 54-51 late in the fourth quarter with less than a minute and half to play.
The Blue Devils struggled to score throughout the first three quarters. The Devils were able to keep it close with key scoring by junior A.J Folson, who scored 20 of the team’s 33 points during the first three quarters and finished with 24 points total. Heading into the fourth quarter the Devils were down 36-44 to the Eagles, but with sound defense and precise shooting the Devils were able to come from behind and obtain a victory 59-54.
Freshman Tavi Toles led the fourth quarter comeback with 14 points while shooting four for four from behind the three point line.
“Toles hit three in a row from that corner and it just seemed like it pumped life back into everyone,” Sherman said.
“It got some adrenaline going in the guys and we were able to put some pressure on them (Eupora) and get them to turn the ball over. Once we got the lead we settled down, got some stop, and hit some key free throws that was big for us,” the coach continued
The Devils were able to outscore the Eagles 23-10 in the fourth quarter. Toles lead the way with 14, while Folson had four and Davidtron Logan and Brandon Brooks each scored two.
Folson led all scorers with 24 points. Toles’ 14 point fourth gave him a total of 17 for the game. Benny Weekly also added eight for the Devils. The Eagles’ top three scorers each were in the double-digits in the game.
“I’m proud of these guys. This is our first come from behind victory since I have been here. In the past if we were behind in the fourth we had the mentality to give up, we didn’t do that tonight. We enjoyed the pressure and embraced it. We kept the faith and got a kind of victory that we have all been waiting on.”
Coach Shayne Linzy was equally as proud of his team. The Lady Devils defeated the Lady Eagles 59-42 prior to the boy’s game and improved their division record to 2-0.
“This was a big win for us, we needed this one bad. This puts us in good position to set up for the division tournament. The girls feel really good about it and feel good about our chances to possibly get the number one seed in our division,” says Linzy.
The Lady Devils jumped out to a 19-13 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. Senior Brittney Weekly and junior Shavontis Thomas led the balanced offensive attack as they both had nine points each at halftime. Eupora’s Tisha Embry led all scorers with 16 points but, was not enough as her team was down 29-23 at the half.
The second half was a repeat of the first, a balanced offensive attack and stellar defense. Weekly and Thomas each had seven points in the half and were the leading scorers for the Lady Devils with 16 points each at the end of the game. Four of the Devils starting five finished in double figures as freshman Ashley Phillips added 11 points and senior Miranda Phillips contributed 10 points. Embry scored 11 points for the Lady Eagles in the second half and finished with 27 to lead all scorers but, once again was not enough as the Lady Devils got the win 59-42.
The Blue Devils will have to travel to division opponent Ackerman to play their next game on Monday, January 15 at 6:00 p.m. The Devils host their second home division game Friday, January 18 against Hamilton. Please come out and support your Water Valley Blue Devils as they start their march through division play.