Wallace wins play-in game

Published 11:15 pm Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wallace Community College's Charles Knight looks for a lane during Saturday's 68-60 win over Southern Union. With the win, the Patriots now face Shelton State Wedensday in Tuscaloosa. -- Rick Couch

In a close game down the stretch strong shooting from the free throw line helped the Wallace Community College mens’ basketball squad hold on for a 68-60 win over Southern Union to advance to the Region 12 Division I Tournament at Shelton State.

The Patriots entered the final five minutes of the game with a slim lead, but controlled the ball. This forced Southern Union to foul, which backfired in the end.

The Patriots hit 12 straight from the line, which head coach Ronald Lane said, was something his team struggled with earlier in the season.

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“The other night we were 17-for-33 and we lost by three points,” he said. “I told them we had to be prepared for this and redeem ourselves at the line. I felt like this game could come down to how we shot at the line.”

The game was a back and forth battle from the opening tip. Southern Union scored the first six points of the game before the Patriots could settle themselves.

Wallace then slowed the tempo and found open shots. The Patriots first lead fittingly came on a free throw to give them a 16-15 edge with 9:35 left in the half.

The Patriots made that lead stick and headed into the locker room up 31-23.

In the second half, Southern Union came out strong and chipped away at the Patriot lead. They eventually overtook the Patriots 40-39 with 10:45 to go in the game.

However, Lane used lineup changes to keep players out of foul trouble and alternate his sets from size to speed.

“We’ve been short on manpower this year so that is something we’ve had to do,” he said. “Luckily we’ve had a lot of players step up off the bench.”

The changes and strong free throw shooting were a perfect combination that helped them hold on for the win.

Senior Charles Knight said he hopes the strong finish paves the way for future teams.

“As a sophomore I have been trying to lead by example,” he said. “We were down some earlier in the year, but coach told us to keep going and pick ourselves up. We’ve been trying to set a good example for the freshmen because they have been there when we needed them.”

The Patriots were lead by Byron Dudley with 21 points, 11 from the free throw line, and Ralph Brooks with 17. Maurice Arrington added 14.