11/27/10 — Saints lose to Pine Forest

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Saints lose to Pine Forest

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 27, 2010 11:45 PM

DUDLEY -- Southern Wayne's intensity and energy led to a strong opening-quarter start during the championship game of its own tournament Saturday evening.

But the Saints couldn't sustain the momentum.

Tournament MVP T.J. Jones knocked down 16 points, including two crucial fourth-period baskets, and led Pine Forest to a come-from-behind 54-48 victory. The Trojans remained unbeaten in four outings this season, while the Saints suffered their first defeat in three tries.

"A good first quarter and then the offense went dead," said Southern Wayne head coach Russell Stephens. "Even when we got the ball where we wanted it, we just couldn't put it in the bucket. For a team that shoots the ball as well as we do, that's a little frustrating.

"Forty-eight points on our home court. I could see us putting that number up somewhere else, but not on our home court where we shoot at every day."

Pine Forest broke a 4-4 deadlock with Jones' old-fashioned three-point play that started on Travis McEachern's steal and assist. Southern Wayne responded with a 12-2 run to take a 16-9 lead after the first eight minutes of action.

The Trojans chipped away at the deficit and regained the lead on Brandon Kyler's layup off a Saints turnover underneath the visitors' basket. Kyler's shot capped a half-ending 14-5 run that pushed Pine Forest ahead 24-23 at halftime.

"I thought our defense was very good tonight," said Stephens. "We moved our feet well, got in the passing lanes and got them to turn the ball over quite a bit. But we turned it back over on offense.

"When you go that hard on defense and give the ball right back to them without a shot, that's kind of frustrating."

Turnovers continued to plague Southern Wayne, which hurried itself offensively and struggled to keep Pine Forest off the boards. Six miscues and numerous missed shots in the paint enabled the Trojans to build a nine-point lead early in the final quarter.

The Saints pulled within one possession on several occasions, but couldn't get a defensive stop. Jones' offensive putback and McEachern's free throws with 52.9 seconds remaining all but sealed the outcome.

"(Jones' offensive rebound) was a big play because the defense up front did what it was supposed to do, force them to take a quick shot," said Stephens. "I don't know how we missed boxing him (Jones) out."

Khari Faison paced the Saints with a double-double -- 10 points, 12 rebounds. Bernard Gross contributed 10 points. Delfawn Worrells supplied eight points and six boards, while Tony Smith tossed in eight points.

Trey Allen picked the Trojans for four steals.