Hot shooting helps Rogers snap Scott’s streak

2/15/2014
BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Rogers' Alejandro Williams pulls away a rebound from Scott's Jay Wells in the third quarter on Friday. Williams scored 11 in the win.
Rogers' Alejandro Williams pulls away a rebound from Scott's Jay Wells in the third quarter on Friday. Williams scored 11 in the win.

What Rogers did to Scott on Friday night hadn't taken place in more than two months.

The Bulldogs boys basketball team had been on an impressive roll. No one had dealt them a loss for 10 straight games.

Rogers came in to Ben E. Williams Fieldhouse on Friday night and spoiled Senior Night for the Bulldogs by pulling off a 65-53 victory in a key City League matchup.

Rogers junior guard Branden Austin sank five 3-pointers, including four in the third quarter, on his way to scoring a game-high 28 points to lead the Rams. His long-range shooting during the decisive period helped the Rams (10-7, 7-3 CL) climb back from a five-point halftime deficit to take a 45-37 lead into the fourth quarter.

PHOTO GALLERY: See more photos from this game

"Coach told me if I feel it, keep shooting," Austin said. "I started feeling it."

He sank wide-open threes. He drained shots from behind the arc with hands in his face. He even banked one in.

"When he takes sensible shots he's good," Rogers coach Earl Morris said.

"When he decides to go off on his own, he's not. Tonight, he played one of the best games that I've seen him play."

Austin's 3-point barrage contributed to Rogers outscoring Scott 33-15 over the course of the second and third quarters. Scott (13-5, 8-2) had led in the first half by as many as 13 points before Rogers seemed to settle down and began whittling away at Scott's lead.

The Rams’ Cameron Copeland provided 14 points and Alejandro Williams chipped in 11 points and six rebounds. As a result of the Bulldogs loss, a potential coin-flip to decide who would receive the No. 1 seed between Bowsher and Scott for the City League tournament was avoided. The Bulldogs are the No. 2 seed and the Rams are third, which means the two teams will face each other in a City League tournament semifinal on Tuesday night at Waite.

"We definitely know what we need to do," Scott coach Chris Dames said, looking ahead to the rematch. "Like I said, I don't think it was an execution or gameplan problem. We just went cold, so I think we're still fairly confident and we're exactly where we need to be. We saved ourselves the expense of a coin flip."

Scott's Chris Harris, left, goes in for a steal on Rogers' Branden Austin in the fourth quarter. Austin drilled five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 28 points for the 10-7 Rams.
Scott's Chris Harris, left, goes in for a steal on Rogers' Branden Austin in the fourth quarter. Austin drilled five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 28 points for the 10-7 Rams.

Chris Darrington led Scott with a team-high 20 points and six rebounds. Chris Harris, the City League's leading scorer (23.2 per game), was held to 12 points. Trey Brown provided nine points and eight rebounds.

"They just played harder than us tonight," Harris said. "Branden Austin played his butt off out there. I have to give credit where it's due. They just played harder.

"We got them on Tuesday. We're going to study film because I know they studied film because they took a lot of things that we like to do away from us."

Scott won the first meeting between the two teams with a 68-57 outcome earlier this season on the Rams court. However, the Rams played that game without Williams on the floor. His presence near the basket was a factor last night.

"He's been playing great ever since he's come back," Morris said. "Now if I can get the other big guy [Fadil Robinson] to play well, we're going to be something to deal with.

"We made shots tonight and we controlled the boards. Once we do that we're hard to deal with."

The Bulldogs owned a 31-26 lead over at halftime, but they didn't enter the locker room with much momentum.

Leading by as many as 13, the lead shrunk to single digits after Rogers closed out the second quarter with a 10-3 run.

Darrington carried the Bulldogs offense. He scored 13 before the break, including 6-of-7 from the foul line. Harris was limited to only four points in the first half.

"We didn't execute when we needed to," Darrington said. "We didn't make shots. Sometimes you have nights when nothing goes in and tonight was one of those nights. They played harder than us and came up with the win."

Contact Donald Emmons at: demmons@theblade.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.