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RHS starts season in winning way

The Russellville varsity boys and girls basketball teams tipped off the 2021-22 season in a successful way on their home court Nov. 18 against the Colbert County Indians. The RHS boys defeated Colbert County by an 85-55 final score, and the Lady Tigers earned a 64-46 victory.

Four of the five starters for the Russellville boys’ team were playing in the Class 5A football playoffs less than a week before the first game of the basketball season, but that didn’t keep the Golden Tigers from getting off to a quick start.

After one quarter of play Thursday night, RHS had a 22-6 lead in front of a large RHS crowd. The Indians saw improvement on the offensive end during the second period and scored 21 points, but Russellville still outdid them with 23 in the quarter for a 45-27 lead at the half for RHS.

The Golden Tigers continued their steady play in the second half and grew the lead in the fourth quarter to enough of an advantage for the running clock rule to take effect.

Eli Gipson led the way in scoring with 37 points for Russellville. He was followed by Amir Williams with 14 and Boots McCulloch with 12. Nathan Brockway added six, and Malachi Duncan scored five. Conner Warhurst and Bralynn Vincent added four apiece, and Cash Crumpton scored three points.

“With the very limited prep that we’ve had, I was pleased with the overall performance,” said Russellville head coach Patrick Odom. “I thought we came out of the gates and played the first 13 or 14 minutes really, really well. We got the lead, and I thought we relaxed some defensively and lost some intensity, but then I thought we finished the game the way we’re supposed to.”

The Lady Golden Tigers also got off to a fast start versus CCHS. Russellville finished the first quarter with a 19-5 lead with the help of 10 points from seventh-grader Ella Copeland.

The two teams played closer to even in point totals during the second and third quarters before RHS outdid Colbert County by a 19-13 total in the final frame.

Ten players got playing time for Russellville, and nine scored.

RHS was led by Copeland with 16 in her varsity debut, and Jenna Whitfield also scored in double figures with 13.

Anna Beth Oliver had nine, including a key three-pointer when the Indians had pulled within three of RHS during the third quarter. Also scoring nine in the game was Jayna Poss.

Jacey Moore added seven, Avery Watts and Kaylee Hamilton had three points each and the duo of Maddy Green, and Ashlyn James scored two apiece.

“It was an exhilarating, fast and physical game, but it’s definitely good when you can come out and get up several points,” said Russellville head coach Jermaine Groce. “We scored in the 60s, the defense looked good at times, the offense looked good at times, our press-break looked great at times, but what I loved the most was the charisma, the enthusiasm, the energy from the bench and things like that.

“So, I think the girls came out, bought-in, played great and played tough,” he said. “We definitely have some things that we’ve got to work on.”

The Russellville teams returned to the court the following evening at Central-Florence and split with games the Wildcats. The RHS boys improved to 2-0 with a 71-62 win, and the girls fell to 1-1 with a 61-45 loss.

The Russellville boys led at the half 35-29 and by 10 after three quarters of play. Gipson and McCulloch led the way with 18 points each. Williams and Duncan followed with eight apiece, Brockway scored seven, Warhurst six, Ashton Boyd scored four, and Vincent added two.

The RHS girls trailed Central 24-17 at the half and were down by 10 after three quarters. Avery Watts led Russellville with 10 points, and Copeland had nine. Leah Rushing, Whitfield and Moore had five each, while Poss and Oliver scored four apiece and James had three.

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