Second half struggles cost the Bearcats game against Early Co.

Published 5:15 pm Friday, December 9, 2016

By Brandon O’Connor


An early lead proved to be unsustainable for the Bearcats as they fell to Early County 58-50 at home on Tuesday.

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“We had a great start,” head coach Terry Smith said. “We lead the entire game until about a minute and fifty-second left in the fourth quarter and we just didn’t finish. We had too many turnovers late.”

Bainbridge (1-5) lead 9-6 at the end of the first quarter and 26-20 at halftime after getting hot from 3-point range in the first half. The quick start was a change for the Bearcats who had struggled to come out of the gate firing earlier in the season.

“It is huge for us because we don’t have a true post player,” Smith said of the hot shooting at the start. “For us, hitting a couple jumpers early, it opens our offense up where we can do a little more and it also gives our kids some confidence.”

The Bearcats recent woe of not finishing games reared its ugly head again in the second half though, as Early used a big third quarter to get back in the game and then took the lead down the stretch for the win.

“The first couple of games we were having bad starts and good finishes and now we’re having good starts and we’re not finishing,” Smith said. “Hopefully we can get it put together by the time region starts.”

He attributed the lack of execution in the second half to a young team that is still learning how to handle the different situations they encounter throughout a game.

“Most of it is my fault,” Smith said. “I haven’t put them in those types of situations as far as end of game situations. Practice-wise, as young as our team is if they’re not put in those situations then they don’t know how to adjust to those situations.”

This week at practice, the team has worked on identifying different situations that they have struggled in during games and learning what each players’ role is and how they should react.

“At the end of every practice that we had this week, we always end it with an end of the game situation,” Smith said. “Whether we are up by some points and we want to run some clock and the only shots you want to take are layups, or if we are down we’ve got to scramble. We’ve got to defend really well. If it gets late in the clock we’ve got to know how to foul.”

Against Early County, the team struggled after Maleke Lurry fouled out of the game, which allowed Early County to dominate the boards even more than they already had been.

“He is one of those seasoned guys,” Smith said. “He was the sixth man coming off the bench last year so that is the most experienced guy that is on our team right now. He’s the biggest, strongest, most physical person in our basketball program.”

The team’s leading scorer in the game was Milton Gayle who had 13. Jeremiah Davis added nine and Jacquez Brown and Kalun Brown each had six.

Bainbridge returns to the court with a home game against Cairo on Saturday before traveling to Colquitt on Tuesday.

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