By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Task in front of the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels Friday night — win and do it by at least 8 points.
The challenge wouldn’t be easy with the Evangelical Christian School Eagles already owners of a 61-54 overtime victory over TRA. ECS wins the game, they are the clear No. 2 seed in the West Regional Tournament.
The Rebels pull off the win, then TRA would force a tie and would win the tiebreaker if the victory is more than 7 points. Final score TRA 59, ECS 52. Let the confusion begin.
“We finished in a tie with ECS,” TRA Head Coach Cedric Anderson said. “They beat us by 7 at there place. We beat them by 7 here. Therefore we had to go to a tiebreaker which was the game against FACS. We both had the same point differential. Then we went to a coin toss. They won the coin toss. They get second place and we go to third and we host tomorrow the winner of USJ and Trinity.”
Paced by guards Tyler Byrd and Eli Ramsey in the first quarter, TRA was in position to snatch up the much-needed win. Byrd scored 4 points and Ramsey hit a triple to help the Rebels earn a 13-12 lead.
The Eagles received three-pointers from Mison Shropshirc and Thomas Kizer to stay within striking distance.
Ramsey got hotter in the second quarter helping TRA gain a double-digit lead. The sophomore sharp shooter hit three triples in the period. The Rebels were ahead 33-20 late in the first half when Byrd and Ramsey hit three-pointers. Their teammate Alex Anderson made a layup during that stretch.
But a missed opportunity late in the second quarter transformed into an ECS three-pointer by Dominie Brown to make the halftime score 33-23.
In the third period the Rebels got timely buckets from Anderson and Thano Sinis. Sinis drilled a triple that made the tally 37-26.
Kam Jones started to heat up for the Eagles in the third quarter hitting inside and outside shots. Jones hit a three-pointer that made the score 40-31. He closed out the quarter with a late basket to make the score 42-33.
Jones’ 12 points in the fourth quarter were crucial in forcing the tiebreaker. TRA had a chance at a go-ahead three-pointer at the buzzer by Cameron Donegan but it bounced off the rim forcing all the chaos at the scorers’ table.
Once the coin flip in favor of the Eagles, Anderson went back to the drawing board addressing his team in the locker room post game.
“I think this team is continuing to learn,” he acknowledged. “Even at this point of the season, we’re continuing to learn.”
Anderson said in order to make a deep run, his Rebels will need to focus on defense, be ready at ever position, get in the right spots and be alert at all times.
“No. 1 the word we’ve been talking about the last two weeks and we’ve been showing it sporadically is discipline,” he said. “We’ve got to have discipline at every single point of the game. We can’t come out with intensity and then drop off.
“Here’s a key play,” he concluded. “End of the first half up by 13, I told them we’re going to the basket on Two. We should get a wide open basket putting us up by 15. We get give up on the two and shoot a three. They get a long rebound and hit a three at the buzzer. It puts them within 10 and there goes the ball game. It’s the difference in us being the No. 2 seed right now.”