Verbena focuses on area tournament after loss

Published 4:46 pm Monday, February 6, 2017

Verbena lost 64-45 to Altamont during the final home game of the regular season on Feb. 3.

The game served as a tune up for the Red Devils (12-4, 5-1), prior to hosting the Area 9-2A tournament Feb. 7 and Feb. 10.

“I don’t remember the last time it was hosted here,” Verbena head coach Scott Doss said. “It’s a big thing for them, because it was one of our goals this year. Next in line is to make the playoffs.”

Verbena grabbed an early lead, but trailed 34-28 at halftime following a 14-6 Altamont scoring run to close the first half.

The Red Devils went cold from the field during stints in the second half, including one possession in the third quarter, in which Verbena could not convert on three shots at the basket.

“They were running a three-quarter court pressure on us, and we could never really get our personnel lined up correctly to handle it,” Doss said.

Altamont came into the game allowing around 50 points per game on average defensively.

However, on a night when the shots were not falling, Verbena was still able to mount a comeback attempt and cut the deficit to eight points with 6:29 left in the game.

The Red Devils were not able to continue capitalizing on the offensive end and Altamont reasserted itself once again.

“We fought back there, but missed a couple of good looks and they were able to stretch it back out,” Doss said. “There’s not much quit in this group of kids.”

Juwan Tyus had a game-high 23 points, while Miller added 14.

For the seniors, an opportunity for redemption is on the horizon with the area tournament.

“I’ve been loving this school ever since I came here,” senior Hakeem Underwood said. “I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.”

One of the things that senior Anthony Miller will miss most about his high school basketball career are the practices and every moment spent with his teammates and friends.

“If it was up to me, I’d tell everyone to play,” Miller said. “It’s a fun sport and it teaches you how to become a man with respect and maturity out there on the court.”

Verbena will host the Area 9-2A tournament, and will play Fayetteville in the semifinals on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The winner will play against Thorsby or Billingsley in the championship game on Friday at 6 p.m.

“This is my first year coaching them in basketball, but I’ve also had them as both baseball and football players,” Doss said. “They are all capable of stepping up and doing things. What we have to do is get all of them hitting at the same time.”