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Late missed opportunities cost Warhawks ACCC opener

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
It may not have been baseball where it is three strikes and you're out, but the same principle applied to the Jefferson Davis Community College Warhawks basketball team.
Late in the Thursday's contest at L.B. Wallace JDCC had three straight possessions to catch the Saints. The result was two missed free throws, two missed shots from inside the lane and a turnover.
It added up to a 67-59 loss at the Andalusia-based school in what was the Alabama Community College Conference opener for both teams.
While those three straight failed possessions did not beat the Warhawks by itself, it did sum up a frustrating setback.
The Warhawks (4-5) put themselves in a hole in the first half where they committed 11 turnovers, made just nine field goals and scored only 21 points.
Most of what little offensive production JDCC managed in the early going came from 6-10 Donovan McMullen. McMullen had four field goals in the first 10 minutes that helped JDCC stay even at 15-15 up to that point.
Sparked by three-pointers by Michael Billing and Joel Thomas, the Saints (5-4) went on an 11-0 run over the next five minutes to move in front 26-15. It was a lead L.B. Wallace would not relinquish.
JDCC did get a pair of three-pointers from Tim Rodgers in the last four minutes of the first half that somewhat eased the offensive struggles, but those six points were the only points the Warhawks scored over the last eight and half minutes on their way to a 28-21 halftime deficit.
L.B. Wallace threatened to bust the game wide open early in the second half. The Saints' lead reached a game high gap of 43-29 when Darius Muse scored from inside the lane three minutes into the period.
While JDCC was able to shave four points off that advantage, it was still a double digit deficit of 49-39 with six and a half minutes left when the Warhawks finally started to get their offense going.
Kedric Wilson sparked the comeback with a pair of three-point plays, a three-pointer and another field goal that cut L.B. Wallace's lead all the way down to 52-51 with 4:16 left.
Billing answered with a critical three-point play before JDCC's Arthur Richardson hit a pair of free throws that trimmed the Saints' advantage to 55-53 with just under four minutes left.
The Warhawks' defense came up with three straight stops, but each stop was followed with three straight missed opportunities on the offensive end.
JDCC's defense finally surrendered a field goal to Rodrick Wilson and Billing added two free throws with 1:05 left that upped L.B. Wallace's lead to 59-53.
Richardson tried to give the Warhawks one last chance, as he had two buckets and a free throw over the next 35 seconds with a bucket by the Saints' Wilson squeezed in between to make it a one-possession lead of 61-58 with 30 seconds left.
L.B. Wallace's Reggie Griffin hit two free throws with 27 seconds left that made it 63-58. Richardson had a chance to make it a one-possession lead again when he was fouled with 22 seconds left. Richardson hit both shots, but a lane violation on the second attempt nullified the point and kept it a two-possession lead.
L.B. Wallace was able to put the game away on the ensuing possesison when Wilson beat the JDCC defense back for a dunk that took the lead up to six. Wilson then hit two free throws with 11 seconds left that accounted for the final margin.
The Warhawks will open up the 2006 portion of their schedule January 5 when they host Bevill State-Fayette at 7 p.m.
At L.B. Wallace
JDCC 21 38 – 59
L.B. Wallace 28 39 – 67
JDCC (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Wilson 4-2-2-16; Richardson 3-0-8-14; Spann 5-0-0-10; McMullen 4-0-0-8; Rodgers 0-2-0-6; Cleveland 2-0-0-4; McKinney 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 18-4-11-59)
L.B. WALLACE (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Wilson 7-0-4-18; Billing 2-2-4-14; Lubin 5-1-0-13; Muse 1-1-4-9; Reese 2-0-4-8; Thomas 0-1-0-3; Griffin 0-0-2-2 (Totals: 17-5-18-67)