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TUESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2007
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Austin's Jay Watkins gets a hand on a shot by Muscle Shoals' Trey Etheridge.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Austin's Jay Watkins gets a hand on a shot by Muscle Shoals' Trey Etheridge.

Austin takes
down Shoals

Sears scores 24 as Black
Bears win 2nd straight

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

In its second straight balanced game of sharing and passing the ball, another strategy worked for Austin High in the second half of its 74-71 victory over Muscle Shoals.

"When Jay (Sears) got hot, we tried to give the ball to him as much as possible," said Travis Cohn, who had 20 points, including 12 in the first half.

Sears finished with 24 points, including 22 in the second half, to lead Austin (15-10) to its second straight victory.

"When Jay Sears has one of those nights, everything follows," Austin coach Demond Garth said.

The Black Bears saw their offense start to flow in the second half after trailing 31-27 at intermission.

Garth said his team "picked up the tempo" offensively early in the third quarter, which was evident when Austin went on a 13-5 run to start the period.

Sears and freshman Jay Watkins each contributed for Austin as Sears used his inside-outside game while Watkins, who finished with 11 points, used his size to get layups in the lane.

"Jay Watkins is a freshman but he does not play like a freshman," Garth said. "When he gets in the game, he rebounds. Sears was hitting his shots, but he was also finding Watkins inside."

Austin had the lead for almost the entire second half, except for a brief moment with 4:45 to play when Muscle Shoals (22-5) knotted the game at 57.

Austin retook the lead, but the Trojans sliced it to one point in the final minute.

On consecutive possessions, Muscle Shoals' Ralston Turner, who finished with a game-high 26 points, got fouled on a basket, and Adrian McCord nailed a 3-point shot to cut the Austin advantage to 72-71.

Austin's T.T. Mallard got fouled and made both of his free throws to make it 74-71 with 13.7 seconds left.

Turner then missed a 3-point shot coming off a screen, with close to no time left.

Before the clock expired, Mallard stepped on the baseline when he came down with the rebound. After much discussion, the referees put 0.2 seconds on the clock — it originally stopped at 0.1. But that was not enough time to catch and shoot.

"We want to try to go undefeated the rest of the season," Cohn said. "I believe we can do it if we work hard and play as a team."

Austin girls 67, Muscle Shoals 36: Ardiana Wilkerson had a game-high 16 points and Austin (14-14) rode a strong second quarter to defeat the Lady Trojans.

Austin went on 13-2 run to start the quarter and never looked back, outscoring Muscle Shoals 19-5 in the period.

The Lady Trojans forced the Lady Black Bears into turnovers by pressing, but the closest that Muscle Shoals could get was 16 points.

Shanise Foster added 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds on a night that saw every Austin player score at least a point.

Kathryn Thompson led the Lady Trojans with 14 points.

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