Verbena boys headed to county tournament finals

Published 3:19 pm Friday, January 9, 2015

Verbena's Christian Agee guards Jemison's Tremon Bryant in a Jan. 8 matchup.

Verbena’s Christian Agee guards Jemison’s Tremon Bryant in a Jan. 8 matchup.

By BRANDON SUMRALL/Special to the Advertiser

With two nights left of the 2015 Chilton County Basketball Tournament, Thursday night’s varsity boys game between the Verbena Red Devils and Jemison Panthers will be tough to top in terms of excitement.

Despite a 17-point deficit to start the second period, the Panthers battled back to eventually tie the game late in the fourth period, but the Red Devils held on for a 56-51 win.

The Red Devils (12-0 overall, 2-0 region) started the game shooting the lights out of Alton Cobb Gymnasium, as they started the game on a 6-0 run.

From that point, Christian Agee began a three-point shooting clinic as he sank his first of five three-pointers in the first period.

With Agee raining in three consecutive three-point baskets, the Red Devils’ lead grew to 15-6.

Two more three-pointers by Agee led the Red Devils to a 24-7 lead at the end of the first period.

Wesley McGehee added a three-pointer to start the second period, but Agee answered with his sixth consecutive three-point basket.

Cody Thompson added a basket for the Panthers (4-8, 0-2) but back-to-back baskets by Dorrian Parker gave the Red Devils a 31-17 lead midway through the second period.

Juwan Tyus took over the scoring duties for the Red Devils, scoring six consecutive points for Verbena, while baskets by Thompson, Shawn Poe and Tremon Bryant answered Tyus’ six points

A late basket by Thompson sent the teams to the locker room for halftime with Verbena leading 37-25.

After outshooting the Panthers 43-percent to 31-percent from the floor in the first half, the Red Devils went ice cold during the third period as Jemison started the second half on a 16-0 run.

ShunDerrius Strong started the run with four consecutive points for the Panthers before McGehee knocked down another three-pointer to bring the score to 37-32 in favor of the Red Devils.

With a free throw by Strong, Cody Thompson went to work for the Panthers to score back-to-back baskets that tied the game at 37-all each.

Another basket by Thompson gave the Panthers their first lead of the game and a basket by Strong extended that lead to four.

Down two with 41 seconds to play in the third, a Verbena basket by Tyus knotted the game at 40-40 and brought the third period to an end.

Raymond Bulger broke the tie with a basket for the Red Devils, but two free throws by Thompson tied the game once again with 5:02 to play.

Bulger answered with a free throw, and a free throw and basket by Tyus gave the Red Devils a 49-44 lead.

Tristan Smitherman hit a three-pointer for the Panthers to cut the lead to two, but Parker answered with a basket that gave the Red Devils a 51-47 lead with 1:36 to play.

A basket by Smitherman and two free throws by Bryant outdid a single free throw by Quandarius Ray to cut the Verbena lead to one with just 44 seconds to play.

Receiving the inbound pass, Parker sank a two to make the lead three points with 27 seconds to play and added another with nine seconds to play to send Verbena on to the finals.

Agee finished the night with 20 points (6-of-10 from three point range), three rebounds, two steals and a block.

Tyus added 19 points, 14 rebounds, two steals and two blocks for Verbena.

Thompson led the Panthers with 16 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks.

The Red Devils advance to the finals on Saturday and will await the winner of Friday night’s semifinal between the Chilton County Tigers and Maplesville Red Devils.