By Scott Nickerson
With Stanhope Elmore winning by double digits in the final minute of a home game against area rival Wetumpka, the student section broke out in joyful chants of, “JUST LIKE FOOTBALL,” referring to the fact that the Mustangs defeated the Indians in basketball just like they did in football back in the fall.
This game, however, was a rematch of a game played just two weeks ago on the Indians’ home court, a 4-point win for Wetumpka. Although the Mustangs led throughout, the game was highly competitive and tightly contested until the final minutes when Stanhope Elmore was able to extend the lead and finish with a 71-60 victory.
The Stanhope Elmore gymnasium was packed, and the fans witnessed a good game with great effort from both teams. Mustang junior Daniel Jamerson had a dominant 1st quarter on the glass, pulling down 7 rebounds and adding 6 points. It was fellow junior Sed Hall that got the home fans rowdy when he caught the ball in the corner at the 3-point line steps away from the crowd, pump faked a shot that sent an Indians’ defender sailing by, and then calmly drained a 3-point shot. Stanhope Elmore ended the 1st quarter ahead 19-13.
Wetumpka started the 2nd quarter hot and hit the first three shots to pull even at 19, but junior Jaden Tillman had 5 points and a couple steals to lead a Mustangs spurt that pushed the lead back to seven points in the final minutes. Senior Tyler Wilson sunk a shot as the 1st half came to a close, giving the Mustangs the momentum heading into the half, and a 9-point lead.
The Mustangs started the 3rd quarter strong, and after a dunk by Jamerson, the Mustangs had their biggest lead of the night, up 14 points. All of a sudden, Indians’ senior Ty Rawls found his shooting touch, and nailed two 3-point shots on consecutive possessions. After the second straight 3-point shot, Rawls had some words for the Mustangs’ student section nearby, and the lead was down to single digits at eight points. However, the 3rd quarter ended just like the 2nd, with Wilson showing great effort to pull down a rebound and then hitting a put back shot as time expired. Wilson hit two shots during the game, one before the expiration of the 2nd quarter, and the other before the end of the 3rd quarter, both which gave the Mustangs needed momentum.
Up 51-41 to start the final quarter, the Indians hit three 3-point shots in the first two minutes, two of which were made by Rawls, to get the deficit as low as 53-50, but the Indians wouldn’t get any closer, as Jamerson made a big shot in the paint to push the lead to five. Jamerson added eight points in the 4th quarter, and Martin Toby also had six huge points, and the Mustangs finished off the Indians, earning their sixth victory of the season, and first in area play, winning by the score of 71-60.
For the night, Jamerson led the Mustangs with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Tillman added 13 points, Dillion Williams had 10 points, and Hall and Toby both contributed 8 points.
Stanhope Elmore is now 6-11 on the season, and 1-1 in area play, splitting their two games against Wetumpka. The Mustangs will now turn their focus to the Selma Saints. Stanhope Elmore will travel to Selma on Tuesday, January 21, and the Saints will return to Millbrook two days later on Thursday, January 23, to make up a game which was cancelled last week due to a leak in the roof of the Mustangs’ gym caused by the strong storms that came through the area last week. The Saints are 11-5 overall, and 1-0 in area play, having defeated Wetumpka by 10 points in a home game last week. If the Mustangs can win both games against the Saints, which will be a tough task, then they will win the area championship and be assured of a playoff spot in the Class 6A playoffs. The two teams last faced each other in the area championship last year in Selma, in a one-point game won by the Saints.