After beating first-place Lincoln on Feb. 1, the Wilson Rams did not have long to celebrate if they wanted to cling to hope for a post-season berth. The Foss Falcons rolled in to Wilson’s gym on Feb. 4 in a familiar must-win scenario for the Rams. But the Rams responded again with a 63-56 win, as Ivy Smith scored a team-high 16 points and Alphonso Anderson added 13 points and 11 rebounds keep their playoff chance alive.
“I knew this group would struggle the first 10 games of the season, but they have embraced and learned our system the last month of the year, and I could not more proud of their effort the last two games,” said Rams coach Dave Alwert.
The focal point for the Rams was Foss all-everything guard Dezmyn Trent, who averages 28 points per game and can score from anywhere on the court. But Noah Hunthausen ignited the Falcons early, scoring 10 first-quarter points en route to 13 points on the night.
Smith would keep Wilson close with seven points in the opening quarter – a sign of things to come late in the game. Trent – who was held to five first-half points – began to find his mark in the third quarter, scoring seven points to help give Foss a 50-40 lead. But Alwert called a timeout to calm down his squad, and it worked.
“Our assistant coaches came up with a plan to speed up the game on both ends of the court and it got us back in the game,” Alwert said. “Give my assistants credit.” Trent picked up his fourth foul at the 2:35 mark of the third as quarter, allowing Wilson to gain more confidence and quickly get back into the game.
Just like he did in the opening quarter, Smith took over for the Rams, pouring in seven fourth-quarter points to give Wilson the lead for good. Smith’s three-pointer with 2:48 to go sealed it for the Rams
“Our guards have been great lately,” Alwert said, singling out the exploits of Montre Brown, David Jenkins, and Smith.
“Coach told us not to panic when we got down by double digits,” Smith said. “We just have a lot of confidence right now that we did not have earlier in the season, and we hope we still have some basketball left to play.”
The Rams had pulled off an even greater upset against the Abes on Feb. 1 behind Anderson’s 15 points and Jenkins’ 11 points.
“These kids went from boys to men tonight,” Alwert said after the win.
“I really needed to pick my team up in the second half and put that sub-par first half behind me,” said Anderson, whose 10 third-quarter points went a long way in contributing to the Wilson win.
Tre’Shaun Fletcher, who led the Abes with 17 points on the night – picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter, and Wilson took full advantage of it. By virtue of the loss, Lincoln had to wait until Feb. 4 at Shelton to clinch the Narrows 3A, which they did with a 62-37 win.
By Steve Mullen