Times Sports Correspondent
This past Saturday night, West Gadsden and Rickards went head to head in Greensboro. Both teams came out and displayed an extreme look of focus during their pregame warm-up drills. Though it was an away game for them, the Raiders had a good number of fans in attendance.
Each team turned the ball over on its first offensive possession. As West Gadsden continued to turn the ball over throughout the first four minutes of the game, Rickards’ sophomore point guard Maurice Howard showcased his offensive abilities, accounting for seven of his team’s first nine points of the game. The Raiders possessed a 9-2 lead over the Panthers with 4:32 remaining in the first quarter.
The Panthers began to attack the rim in the bottom half of the first quarter, and as a result they were able to get back in the game by collecting points from the free-throw line. With less than a minute left in the opening period, the Raiders committed a costly foul on Arlist Kenon’s three-point attempt, which sent him to the line to take three shots. After making two of his attempts, West Gadsden took a 14-13 lead. Rickards carried a small 15-14 advantage into the second quarter.
The Raiders began the second period in the penalty, which caused the Panthers to continually attack the basket. Two trips to the charity stripe by senior center Marquis Foreman within the first two minutes of the quarter gave West Gadsden a 16-15 lead. The Panthers began to frustrate the Raiders by rolling their aggression over to the defensive side of the ball, causing the visitors to turn the ball over.
With 1:46 left in the half, Foreman threw down his second dunk of the game and extended West Gadsden’s lead by a score of 28-17. Due largely in part to a big quarter played by Panther big men Devonte Gibson and Foreman, the home team went into the intermission of the game with a 32-23 advantage. West Gadsden put a lot of passion and intensity into the game during the last 12 minutes of the first half but because of several missed free throws, they also left a lot of points on the floor.
The Panthers continued to get to the free-throw line in the third quarter. With 5:29 remaining in the period, junior guard Archie Albritton knocked down two free throws after being fouled on a strong drive to the basket, which pushed his team’s lead to 38-28. The Raiders bounced back, and as Howard nailed another jumper with 1:30 to go in the third, they cut into the Panther lead by a score of 38-33. The last points of the quarter were scored by West Gadsden’s freshman point guard Andrew Reddick, who hit two free throws to give his team a 42-33 advantage.
The Raiders’ defensive troubles didn’t go away in the final quarter of play, and after a few quick baskets by the Panthers, Rickards trailed by a score of 52-33 with 4:52 remaining in the last period. Maurice Howard, the Raider’s three-point assassin, hit three huge shots from beyond the arch including a successful four-point play, but was unable to will his team to victory. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Panther Nation began to cheer as their team produced a big 68-62 victory over the Raiders.
After stepping out of the locker room, an elated Devonte Gibson gave his impression of the game: “It feels good; we had to bounce back after two losses to Godby and FAMU. We had to show everybody we are about serious business and on a mission.”
The Panther’s leader Coach Moten also spoke after the win.
“We been struggling and I’ve been telling them we’ve got to fight,” he said. “This is the first time our big guys fought hard inside, diving for balls and taking charges. We’ve got to continue to play like this for the rest of the season.”