No. 10 Russellville overcomes 13-point deficit to top Athens, stay undefeated in area play
The tenth-ranked Russellville boys varsity basketball team knows how to give its fans an exciting game.
Friday the Golden Tigers fell behind early only to storm back in the second half to beat Athens 59-54.
Russellville finished the first half on a 7-0 run to cut Athens' halftime lead to 36-30 and Golden Tiger coach Michael Smith thinks that was a contributing factor in the win.
"Being down six (points) is a whole lot better than being down 10 like we were," Smith said. "That was a big run at halftime. It allowed us to get a sigh of relief. It let us know all we had to do was get out there, play some better defense and get some shots and we could win the game."
Athens built a 10-point lead in the opening quarter before Russellville was able to find its scoring rhythm and go on the half-ending run.
Darrian Graham was a big part of that run, scoring five of the seven points.
After halftime, Russellville quickly erased the deficit and pulled ahead by going on another run, this time outscoring Athens 16-2. The Golden Tiger defense stopped the Athens attack and held the Golden Eagles to only six points in the third quarter.
Athens rallied in the fourth quarter, pulling within 55-53, but Terence Smith hit four free throws down the stretch to help Russellville pull away.
Bates scored a game-high 20 points while Graham finished with 18 points.
"Darrian stepped up," Smith said. "He has come a long way, but we are going to need more people step up."
Also scoring for Russellville were Terence Smith (17), Micah McCulloch (2) and Tucker Hammock (2).
Russellville struggled shooting throughout the game. The Golden Tigers shot 37.9 percent from the field in the first half and shot 40 percent in the second half.
Russellville was 0-for-5 on 3-point shots.
The Golden Tigers did well at the free throw line however, converting 17-of-23 free throw attempts.
Terence Smith was 9-of-10 from the charity stripe.
With the win, Russellville improves to 13-2 overall and 4-0 in area play.
The Golden Tigers will be on the road Monday to play Florence.
They will host Class 5A, Area 15 foe Muscle Shoals Friday as Russellville tries to sweep the season series from the Trojans.