Selma holds off Sidney Lanier

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 9, 2005

Selma High School coach Willie Maxey Jr. knows his Saints still have not reached their potential.

However, the Saints took a giant step Friday night toward becoming the team Maxey envisions.

The Saints rallied from a five-point deficit Friday night to beat the Sidney Lanier Poets, 56-47, at the Selma High School gym.

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The Saints (7-5 overall, 4-1 in area play) led 29-25 at halftime, but fell behind in the third period behind a Lanier rally. The Poets took a 40-35 advantage into the final period and led 42-37 in the opening moments of the fourth quarter.

The Saints battled back in the physical game, getting some help from the Poets, who committed several fouls down the stretch.

A pair of free throws from Edgar Brown cut the margin to 42-39. After a Lanier timeout with 5:24 remaining, the Saints rebounded a Poets’ missed shot. Quindell Pernell finished the play with a driving lay-up from the right wing to make it a one-point game, 42-41, with 4:12 to go.

Another Lanier foul sent Selma guard John Dailey to the charity stripe. Dailey converted both foul shots to give the Saints a 43-42 lead with 3:51 left.

Lanier battled back and regained the lead on a three-point play by forward Steven Pair.

Poets center Douglas Murray found Pair on a cross-court pass from the right wing. Pair took the pass on the left baseline and quickly drove the baseline, where he was fouled while hitting the running floater. His free throw gave the Poets the lead, 47-45 with 2:56 to go.

Pair’s points, however, would be the Poet’s last. The Selma defense clamped down from there, denying Lanier the ball.

Selma also converted seven free throws in the final 1:43 to close out the victory. Dailey capped the win with a thunderous dunk at the buzzer.

It was the second huge victory of the week for the Saints, who also beat Carver on Tuesday. Carver entered the game as the state’s second-ranked team in Class 6A.

Lanier had been ranked as high as fourth in the state polls this season, but has since dropped from the top 10.

Maxey said player substitutions he made in the third quarter were key in helping the Saints to the win. The Selma coach also praised his defense for its play in the second half.

“The defense played exceptionally well,” he said. “I made some changes in the third period because some of the guys weren’t as familiar with what we were doing as I thought they should be.But we can always make adjustments off a win.”

The victory also sent a strong message that the Saints were ready to begin a push toward the area tournament, gaining strength and momentum all the way.

“By the time we reach the tournament,” Maxey said, “we’ll be in good shape. I don’t think we’ve reached our potential yet, but we’re on the way.”

After a nip-and-tuck first quarter that ended with Selma holding a 16-12 lead, the Saints appeared to be on their way to an easy victory.

After three Malcolm Crittendon free throws stretched the lead to 19-12, Dailey stripped the ball away from guard Jerrel Calhoun in the back court. Dailey sent a bounce pass to Cajun Pritchett on the right wing for a running lay-up that widened the Selma lead to nine.

Selma enjoyed an eight-point lead midway through the second period before the Poets rallied. After two foul shots by Murray, Pair drove the left wing for a lay-up to close the gap to 27-23. Selma held on to the lead, 29-25 at halftime.