Verbena falls to Notasulga

Published 2:34 pm Thursday, January 22, 2015

Janiya White dribbles through defenders in a matchup with Notasulga.

Janiya White dribbles through defenders in a matchup with Notasulga.

The Verbena Red Devils varsity boys got off to a strong start this season as they picked up wins in each of their first 12 games with the last coming in the semi-finals of the county tournament.

Since then, the Red Devils have dropped three in a row, having lost in the championship game to Chilton County, on the road earlier this week to Maplesville, and the latest at home on Jan. 15  in a hard fought battle against the Notasulga Blue Devils, 73-68.

After watching the Verbena varsity girls lose 63-24 to Notasulga, both boys teams struggled to find the basket in the early seconds of the game before Aurick Cloud added the first points of the game that was quickly answered by a three-point basket from Juwan Tyus.

Cloud answered right back with another Blue Devils basket, but Jacob Cleckler kept the Red Devils ahead by one point.

Christian Agee added two for Verbena, but a basket by Cloud tied the game at 7-all with 5:12 to play in the period. Baskets by Raheem Mennefield and Cloud gave the Blue Devils a four-point lead but Dorrian Parker cut the lead to one with a three-pointer.

Hakeem Underwood tied the game at 11-11 with 1:46 to play, but an 8-2 Notasulga run gave the Blue Devils a 19-13 lead at the end of the first period. Notasulga added two more to their first-period run before Parker ended the run with a two-pointer for the Red Devils.

With 2:50 to play and the Red Devils down eight, Tyus added a two-point basket that started an 11-4 run for the Red Devils. Tyus added another basket for the Red Devils while a Randy Robinson free throw brought the score to 31-26 in favor of the Blue Devils.

Another basket by Tyus pulled Verbena to within three, but a Mennefield three-pointer pushed the Blue Devil lead back to four with just four seconds to play.

With a couple of quick passes off the inbound, Jacob Cleckler fired off a last second shot at the buzzer that banked off the backboard and through the hoop to draw the Red Devils to within one at the half, 34-33.

After a free throw by the Blue Devils to start the second half, another three-pointer from Cleckler gave Verbena its first lead of the game, 36-35. The lead didn’t last as Cloud gave the Blue Devils the lead back with a two-point basket, but Raymond Bulger answered with a basket for the Red Devils to give Verbena a one-point lead.

With 4:48 to play, Christian Agee took over for the Red Devils by scoring 10 consecutive points that gave Verbena its largest lead of the game, 50-41.

The large lead didn’t last, however, as the Blue Devils answered with a 9-2 run to draw to within two at the end of the period, 52-50.

The lead swapped hands again just 32 seconds into the final period when Coreantae O’Neal knocked down a three-pointer for the Blue Devils. An old fashioned three-point play by Tyus gave the Red Devils a one-point 59-58 lead with 5:22 to play.

Both teams exchanged baskets before Cleckler drained another three-pointer to give the Red Devils a two-point lead, and with a basket by Agee, the Red Devils took a four-point, 66-62 lead with 3:12 to play. The Blue Devils answered with a 6-0 run, but Agee ended the run with a basket for the Red Devils that tied the game at 68-68 with 1:29 to play.

O’Neal broke the tie with a three-point basket for Notasulga, and a Jeremiah Tatum basket gave the Blue Devils a five-point lead with 32 seconds to play. Multiple attempts from the Red Devils fell short as Verbena fell at home 73-68. Agee lead the Red Devils with 18 points, eight rebounds and two steals.

Tyus added 16 points, seven rebounds, one steal and a block for Verbena. O’Neal lead the Blue Devils with 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven steals.