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Saints escape with win

Despite being taken out of its element and making a litany of mistakes, Selma escaped with a 44-37 win over Demopolis in the first round of the Class 5A, Area 5 tournament on Friday.

“In a sense, we knew they were going to come to play,” said Selma coach Woodie Jackson. “This time of the year, everybody comes to play.”

Demopolis kept the score close with a methodically slow pace, which threw the Saints for a loop. But the Tigers couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities their game plan afforded.

“It was our kind of game. That’s exactly what we worked on, slowing the game up,” said Demopolis coach Jesse Bell. “We got some great looks. They just didn’t fall for us.”

Though they missed several layups and were at a distinct size disadvantage, the Tigers kept it close the whole way. Demopolis and Selma traded the lead four times through the first 14 minutes before a Darion Alexander layup put Selma ahead for good at the 1:39 mark of the second quarter.

The Saints closed the period with a 6-0 run on layups by Wednell Lewis and DeAngelo Norris to take a 24-18 lead into the intermission.

But the Tigers didn’t go away, remaining within striking distance through three quarters. They cut the deficit to 34-30 on a Jeremy Wallace layup with 6:28 left in the game.

But Norris responded with a layup and 3-point play to stretch the advantage back to nine at 39-30.

“We needed that,” said Jackson. “He’s got to step it up some so we can get where we want to go.”

Demopolis got back in the game with a press defense that led to a Dontrayle Wheeler layup and 3-pointer to make it 39-35. But Selma’s size advantage took over from there. The Saints milked the clock and grabbed rebounds off missed Tiger shots, and then secured the win at the free throw line.

Lewis led the Saints (19-9) with 19 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks. Norris added 14.

With the win, Selma advances hosts G.W. Carver (Montgomery) in the area championship game on Monday.