Saints top Hornets, ready for Panthers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 2004

It was the knock-down, drag-out game that both head coaches had expected.

The Selma High School Saints threw two major blows – the first and last – Wednesday night and came away with a 61-54 win over the rival Dallas County Hornets in the first round of the Selma High Invitational.

The Saints (5-4) opened with an 8-0 run, then got a major boost from Quin Pernell to hold on to the win. The Selma guard scored eight of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, then added a key block to help the Saints hold on.

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Selma advances to the final Thursday night against the Southside Panthers.

“It was a good ball game as I anticipated,” Selma coach Willie Maxey Jr. said. “Quin’s played well all year. In crucial games, he’s been our go-to factor. He’s our leading rebounder and he always comes through in key situations.”

That included Wednesday night. With the Saints clinging to a five-point lead, 51-46, entering the fourth period, Pernell got on a roll that would not stop until the final whistle.

Center Eric Martinear’s pass from the left wing found Pernell along the right baseline for a quick layup and a 55-46 lead.

Dallas County managed a late rally and cut the margin to three on a three-pointer by Rafel Miller and a layup from Michael Johnson.

However, Martinear and Pernell teamed up again to put the game out of reach. Martinear’s bounce pass along the left baseline found Pernell, who weaved his way past Johnson for the layup and a 57-52 Selma lead.

Pernell added a jumper from the top of the key, followed by a layup off a Martinear pass at the buzzer.

Selma looked as if it would coast early on. The Saints came out with an aggressive attack against the Hornets.

After a Cajun Pritchett missed 12-footer, forward John Dailey charged the baseline for the offensive rebound and lay-in as the Saints built an 8-0 lead with 6:15 to go in the first quarter.

Dallas County entered the game having not played since routing Jemison, 101-48, on Dec. 14. The Hornets dropped to 6-6 on the season.

“It was a good, old-fashioned grudge match like I thought it would be,” Dallas County coach Bill Porter Jr. said. “Selma just happened to come out on top of us.

“When you don’t play for 15 days, you tend to come out rusty. You can’t expect to let Selma open an 8-0 lead and hope to win. I give our guys a lot of credit for not giving up.”

Selma held a comfortable 41-32 halftime lead, before the Hornets battled to get back in the game.

After a three-pointer by Josh Spears narrowed it to a six-point contest, Selma went on a mini 8-4 run capped by Martinear’s jumper from the foul line that gave the Saints a 10-point cushion, 49-39.

The Hornets would not go away, however, and rallied with a 5-0 run of their own. Miller started it with a 12-footer from the left wing, followed by a thundering dunk by Johnson.

Following a Selma timeout, Spears hit the first of two charity shots to make it a 49-44 game.

The two teams traded baskets to close the third period and keep the Saints up by five, 51-46.

The Saints proved to be too much for the Hornets, as Selma began pulling away.

Dailey followed a Selma miss with a running baseline layup. Pernell then hit his first of four buckets in the final period as the Saints regained a comfortable margin at 55-46.

“I’m happy anytime we can salvage a win,” Maxey said. “I expect nothing more than a tremendous game whenever we play Southside. I don’t think (tonight) will be any different. We definitely have a challenge ahead of us.”

Selma was paced by Dailey with 17 points. He was followed by Pernell with 15 points and Edgar Brown with 13.

Dallas County was led by Johnson’s game-high 20 points. Miller tossed in 17, while Spears added 11.

The Hornets will play the Sidney Lanier Poets in the third place game tonight beginning at 6 p.m.