For three quarters, Coosa hung around Darlington, refusing to let the Tigers finish them off. The pesky Eagles fought and scrapped and even outscored the visiting squad in the third quarter, but a huge offensive run in the final quarter proved too much, as the Tigers took a 79-47 region win.
“I thought we were very sluggish for the first three quarters offensively. I thought we just kind of over dribbled too many times, over penetrated too much and had too many turnovers. That caused Coosa to outscore us in the third quarter,” Darlington head coach Nathan West said. “I kind of challenged them at the end of the third quarter, and I thought they responded coming out there in the fourth.”
Coosa started the final quarter by cutting the Tigers’ lead to 57-43 on a basket underneath from Joseph Richardson. Over the next five minutes, Darlington launched on a 22-4 run to end the game with a comfortable 22-point advantage.
Braden Bell drained the first of his three 3-pointers in the final quarter to up the lead to 60-43. Jack Bell scored a basket, and then Szymon Paluch followed with three baskets, including one 3-pointer, upping the Tiger’s lead to 69-44.
Coosa’s Ashton Williams answered with a 3 of his own only to have Braden Bell drain back-to-back shots from beyond the arc. Brent Bell added a basket as did Charlie Shaw for the final margin of 79-47.
“It’s always good to see a response like that whenever you are trying to coach them through things,” West said. “We’ve just got to be better. So we need to go back and fix that.”
Paluch and Braden Bell led the Tigers with 16 points each. Paluch added seven rebounds and Bell grabbed four. D’Marion Floyd was the other Tiger in double figures as he tallied 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds. Quin McClarity scored seven points, while Charlie Shaw added eight points and six rebounds.
The Tigers jumped out to an early lead in the game behind 3-pointers from Joseph Womack and Asa Shepard as well as stingy, pressure defense that didn’t allow the Eagles to score a single basket from the floor in the opening quarter. All nine Eagles’ points came via free throws.
“Pressure defense is kind of our identity, so we want to come out here and press guys every game,” West said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”
Although the Eagles trailed 47-29 opening the second half, they refused to go quietly, as Richardson tallied six of his game-high 22 points during the quarter, and Williams drilled two 3-pointers to end the third, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 16 points.
For the game, Williams managed 10 points while DJ Hames added six.
The win moves Darlington to 17-3 overall and 10-0 in Region 7-A Division I. The Tigers return to action on Tuesday at home against region foe Chattooga with tip-off set for 7:30 p.m. Although his squad is still undefeated in region play, West said they aren’t taking anything for granted.
“We just have to take every day at a time and one opponent at a time,” he said. “We don’t need to look ahead and just try to keep improving this time of the year and keep going from there.”
The loss drops Coosa to 8-11 overall and 4-6 in region play. They are back at home on Tuesday for a Floyd County rivalry matchup against Armuchee at 7:30 p.m.