News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Austin teams up to defeat Huntsville
Black Bears' boys, girls open with W's

By Josh Cooper 340-2460

HUNTSVILLE — In its first game of the season, Austin looked similar to the team that made it to the Alabama Class 6A semifinals last season.

Last year's stars Travis Cohn and Jay Sears have graduated, but the Black Bears put on a relentless display of passing and teamwork to defeat Huntsville 74-58 on Friday.

"We started running our stuff," said Black Bears coach Demond Garth. "Once we did, our guys got layups and good shots."

Dealing with a hostile environment on the road, the Black Bears (1-0) started out slowly, falling behind the Panthers 22-19 with 6:38 remaining in the second quarter.

But the team quickly relaxed, found its rhythm and rattled off a 10-3 run to take the lead at 29-25 over Huntsville (1-1) with 3:24 remaining in the half.

In the final 2:18 of the second quarter the Black Bears went on a 9-3 run to push the score to 38-29 before halftime.

In the first half alone, Austin outshot the Panthers 63 percent to 43 percent, and in the second half the Black Bears continued to pour it on.

By the end of the third quarter, Austin grabbed a 56-41 lead, and led by as many as 22 in the fourth quarter.

According to Garth, much of Austin's steady play had to do with something that happened before the game. One of Huntsville's players dunked during warm-ups, leading to a technical foul. Verkeneo Mann sunk both free throws before the opening tipoff.

While the 2-0 wasn't insurmountable for Huntsville, the shots eased Austin's first-game nerves a little.

"There are always first-game jitters," Garth said. "But everybody kind of relaxed after those two free throws."

Center George Williams came up big for Austin, leading the Black Bears with 17 points. Williams set the tone at the beginning of the second half when he seemingly came out of no where to throw down a putback dunk.

"(George) played OK," said Garth, "We fought the whole time out there."

Mann chipped in for Austin with 15 points, and Quez Powell had 11.

Eric Russell scored 16 points for Huntsville, and Ben Nunley had 12 points.

When asked whether he felt his team could adequately replace Cohn and Sears, Williams pointed out the difficulty that the Black Bears face.

"We have to work hard to fill their shoes," Williams said.

But after being reminded that Jay's brother younger Ricky plays for Austin, Williams smiled.

He said, "So, he can fill Jay's shoes."

Austin girls 58, Huntsville 10: As time ran out on Austin High's victory over Huntsville, the only question centered on whether Austin's defense could hold the Lady Panthers to single digits in shooting percentage.

Huntsville ended the game shooting 11.4 percent from the field as Austin's defense suffocated the Lady Panthers.

Brittney Smith led the Lady Black Bears' offense with 13 points, while grabbing 11 rebounds.

Austin's defense played so well that it shut out the Lady Panthers 14-0 in the third quarter. Huntsville scored six points in the fourth quarter, its highest output of the game per quarter.

Jasmine Powers chipped in for Austin with nine points and seven rebounds while Nikkia Jordan scored seven points. Temeka Smiley and Shanise Foster each scored six for the Lady Black Bears.

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