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Piedmont Stepping Up

Piedmont’s Taylon Swain drives to the basket during the Bulldogs’ 71-62 victory at Saks on Monday. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Piedmont’s Taylon Swain drives to the basket during the Bulldogs’ 71-62 victory at Saks on Monday. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Piedmont, AL – Ankle injury sidelines Bethel amid Saks comeback, but Glover, Piedmont’s five on the floor steady Bulldogs for area victory. Pope, Young shoot Piedmont girls to victory.

Monday scoreboard

BOYS
White Plains 48, Anniston 46
Piedmont 71, Saks 62
Alexandria 92, Talladega 84
GIRLS
Anniston 70, White Plains 27
Piedmont 59, Saks 38
Talladega 75, Alexandria 36
Lincoln 69, Munford 15

By Joe Medley

Piedmont’s Taylon Swain drives to the basket during the Bulldogs’ 71-62 victory at Saks on Monday. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Piedmont’s Taylon Swain drives to the basket during the Bulldogs’ 71-62 victory at Saks on Monday. (Photo by Joe Medley)

SAKS — Challenges started for first-year Piedmont boys basketball coach Matt Glover before the preseason’s first dribbles.

As heartsick as he must of felt when top-returning scorer Rollie Pinto suffered a football-related knee injury that would sideline him through basketball season, imagine Glover’s angst as second-leading returning scorer Ismael Bethel lie writing on Saks’ playing floor Monday.

Saks had already scored the third quarter’s first 16 points to tie their Class 3A, Area 11 game, and there lies one of Glover’s best remaining players.

After assistant coach Caleb Adams and teammate Chance Murphy helped Bethel off of the floor and into a bench seat, where Bethel propped his right leg with an ice bag draped over his lower shin and upper foot, Glover gave his team words that he likely needed to hear.

“We got in on a timeout, and I just told them to calm down, and we were going to win this game,” Glover said. “I really believed in the five I had out there at that time.”

Piedmont weathered it. Colton Proctor led four Bulldogs in double figures with 18 points, and they won 71-62, improving to 5-2 on the season, 3-0 area.

The most obvious question to come out of the game involves the extend of Bethel’s injury and how many games he might miss. Glover got encouraging witness from first-year Saks coach Wes Ginn, who sat directly behind where Bethel fell.

“Wes told me he rolled it to the outside, so, hopefully, it’s just around the ankle, and nothing’s high, nothing’s major,” Glover said. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”
Maybe the best thing for Glover’s first Piedmont team as head coach is just how the five players on the floor in the fourth quarter regained control of the game.

Piedmont hit 13 3-pointers, 12 while build a lead of as many as 20 points in the first half. The Bulldogs led 47-33 at halftime,

Saks outscored Piedmont 19-7 in the third quarter and took a lead, 49-47, before Luke Rhinehart’s driving layup began Piedmont’s stabilization.

Saks’ comeback preceded Bethel’s injury, which came at 1:03 of the third.

“We knew they had a real good shooting team, and we started out real slow on defense, not closing out on shooters and getting a hand up,” Ginn said. ‘They made us pay.

“We knew our defensive pressure would hurt them a little bit, and it ended up getting us back in the game.”

Joshua Todd scored four of his team-high 18 points in the third quarter. Dorrien Walker scored five, including a 3-pointer, in the third and finished with nine points.

Anthony Bothwell and Christian Smith both scored in the third and finished with eight points apiece, and Christian Hall scored eight points on the night as Saks fell to 1-5.

Piedmont’s answer came from Proctor, who hit five of six free throws in the fourth quarter en route to his tying Todd’s 18 points.

It came from Jaylen Brown and Cole Wilson, who scored 12 points apiece. Rhinehart scored 11 points, and Taylon Swain added nine.

They were the group that got Piedmont back out to as much as a 70-60 lead in the fourth quarter.

“I had people that didn’t think they were going to have to step up, have to step up in this game,” Glover said. “Taylon, Luke Rhinehart, Colton, J.B. and then Cole Wilson, and J.B. had to go out of the game (fouls), and that put Dylan Oliver in the game.

“I was without a point guard for about three or four minutes, and I thought Taylon Swain did a really good job controlling the game. Him and Colton Proctor both stepped up and did a good job of being able to run the point when J.B. was in foul trouble.”

Piedmont’s Amiyah Thomas drives during the Bulldogs’ victory at Saks on Monday. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Piedmont’s Amiyah Thomas drives during the Bulldogs’ victory at Saks on Monday. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Girls

PIEDMONT 59, SAKS 38: Ava Pope led the Bulldogs with 14 points, including four of Piedmont’s nine 3-pointers, and Josie Young hit one trey en route to 13 points before exiting the action in the third quarter, with an apparent ankle sprain.

Piedmont (5-4) improved to 3-0 in area play.

“We’re getting better,but that’s a big win,” first-year Piedmont coach Shane Morrow said. “We’re 3-0 in the area. We’re excited to be where we’re at, sitting 3-0 in area.”

Alonna Crews hit two 3-pointers en route to leading Saks (2-4) with 14 points. Angel and Carter scored nine apiece, and Carter hit three 3-pointers.

“We had a few sick, battling colds and things like that, so the effort just was not there tonight,” first-year Saks coach Lamar Bradford said. “I was a little disappointed in the effort, but I’m going to give them a pass because a few of them were sick, and they looked a little weak, they looked like they were not a hundred percent.”

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