Golden Tigers on a roll as area play begins again
Mike Self, FCT Sports Editor
Justin Thorne had 14 points to lead a balanced scoring attack for Russellville on Tuesday as the Golden Tigers beat Sheffield 51-45, extending their win streak to four heading into tonight's Class 5A, Area 16 game at Muscle Shoals.
Siran Winston added 11 points for the Golden Tigers (13-4), who wiped out a nine-point deficit by out-scoring the Bulldogs 20-5 in the fourth quarter.
Caleb Mitchell had nine points and Terence Smith added seven for Russellville, which now begins a stretch of three critical area games in the span of one week.
After visiting Muscle Shoals tonight, the Golden Tigers will host Athens on Tuesday and then play at Decatur next Friday.
Russellville is currently 0-3 in area play, but head coach Michael Smith said his team is looking at tonight's game as an opportunity for a fresh start.
"We didn't have much success the first time around in our area, but our guys have to realize that we just didn't play well on those nights," Smith said. "We still have a chance to improve our seeding for the area tournament if we play like we're capable of playing, starting with tonight."
The Golden Tigers may be without the services of leading scorer Cory Trapp, who as of Wednesday was still fighting a recent bout with pneumonia.
"Right now it's probably 50-50 as to whether or not he'll play," Smith said on Wednesday afternoon. "We know he won't be able to play his normal minutes, but we're hoping to get maybe 10 minutes from him."
Trapp has missed the past four games, but the resilient Golden Tigers still managed to earn wins over Haleyville, Florence, Deshler and Sheffield.
"Defensively, at least in spurts, we've been doing a pretty good job," Smith said. "We're still not rebounding as well as we need to, but our free throw shooting has really helped us. We're shooting free throws a lot better than we were earlier in the year."
The Golden Tigers were an impressive 17-for-18 from the line against Sheffield, one night after making 22-of-27 free throws in a 67-58 win over Deshler.
Smith's team is hoping for a better showing in area play this time around. The Golden Tigers were 9-1 before dropping three straight games to Decatur, Muscle Shoals and Athens earlier this month.
The Trojans won 68-52 at Russellville on January 5, behind 28 points from Reed Morgan.
"One thing we have to do a better job of is rebounding," Smith said. "We've been shooting the ball okay, just not as well as we were the first few games. Our players have to realize how important it is for us to block out and get on the boards."
In other recent action:
Sheffield 66 Russellville 57
Jordan Dollar led Russellville with 25 points in Tuesday's loss, but the Lady Golden Tigers couldn't overcome a slow start.
Mondricka Whitson had 19 points for Sheffield, which led 20-6 after one quarter. Russellville trailed by 16 at halftime and then out-scored the Lady Bulldogs 38-31 in the second half, but the early deficit was too much to overcome.
Victoria Taylor added 11 points for Russellville. Erin Reynolds had eight, and Tasha West added seven.
The Lady Golden Tigers (1-2 in Class 5A, Area 16) will visit Muscle Shoals tonight in an area game.