McIntosh boys rebound from tough week with win at Fayette
There wasn’t any talk about strategy or an offensive game plan inside of the McIntosh locker room prior to Saturday’s game against Fayette County. Instead of game prep, McIntosh head coach Jason Eisele fired up his team with one simple message.
“Let’s go out there and fight,” Eisele said.
After a rough week that included devastating losses to Sandy Creek and Morrow, the Chiefs responded with a renewed energy against the Tigers. They fed off each other and outpaced Fayette in a 51-45 victory. It was the first victory for Eisele over Fayette County in his lengthy career at McIntosh.
“I am so proud of the way these guys fought tonight and played with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder,” Eisele said. “That is a good team right there.”
Shots were falling from the opening tip for McIntosh. Without top scorer senior guard Chaz Hardin, the Chiefs relied on ball movement to beat the Fayette County defensive zone.
McIntosh junior guard Naj Ashley-Emory provided an early spark by being aggressive and attacking the basket. He had three points in the first quarter and opened space for the Chiefs to connect from distance.
Senior forward Cole Guenther also got involved with four points in the first frame to give the Chiefs a 12-11 lead. McIntosh would hold the advantage in the second quarter as they limited Fayette County to one shot per possession.
McIntosh won the rebounding edge 43-34 in the game. Guenther had 13 rebounds to go along with 6 points. Junior forward Andrew Pinckney added 11 rebounds as well.
“They definitely had us outsized, and I thought we did a good job on the boards,” Eisele said. “We have been a little bit passive here the last few games, and this is definitely a good one to get under our belt as a confidence booster.”
The main source of production for the Tigers was junior guard Ricky Knight. He kept Fayette in the game with 10 first-half points, and his 3-point shooting cut the halftime deficit to 23-17. Knight finished the game 18 points and 2 assists.
After halftime, Fayette rallied with 16 points in the third quarter to make it a 35-33 game going into the fourth quarter. In the fourth, McIntosh was able to wear down Fayette County with clutch baskets behind senior guard Garrett LeClaire and junior guard Keenan Brown.
LeClaire gave McIntosh a late lead with a huge 15-foot jump shot. He later chased down a rebound and found Brown for two free throws to ice the victory.
Brown finished the game with 10 points, 2 rebounds, and a steal. LeClaire added 6 points.
Both guards drew praise from Fayette County head coach Andre Flynn, who said their play made life difficult for his team.
“Their guards outplayed our guards,” Flynn said. “If our guards get outplayed, that is going to be the bottom line.”
Flynn reiterated that Fayette didn’t match the energy of McIntosh. He agreed that his team was a little flat and wants them to get stronger mentally as the season unfolds.
“We got to make shots as we are not a team that is going to score 45 points,” Flynn said. “We didn’t step up and make the shots. Basketball hasn’t changed and we got to put the ball in the basket. We didn’t do that tonight.”
McIntosh improved to 9-3 on the season and moved into a tie with Fayette in the AAAAA Region 3 standings. Fayette dropped to 10-4 on the year.
Fast and furious Lady Tigers route McIntosh 55-37
There aren’t too many teams that can keep up with the fast-paced attack of the Fayette County Lady Tigers. The Tigers have an explosive offense that is predicated on transition opportunities and easy shots at the rim. Head coach John Strickland likes to make every game a track meet and test the conditioning of his opponents. McIntosh was the latest team to experience the high-powered offense. The Lady Chiefs were forced into uncomfortable situations and fell 55-37 on Saturday night.
“Anytime that you are playing anyone in the county it’s tough,” Strickland said. “It is a region game and these girls have been growing up around each other. They know each other and their styles since middle school. It’s always a plus when you can get a win.”
Fayette senior guard Trinity Brown led the charge with 14 points. She was aggressive early and attacked the interior of the Chief defense. Brown had six free-throw attempts in the first quarter and got several of McIntosh players in foul trouble.
The Chiefs were forced to adapt and go into a 3-2 zone to counteract the constant drives to the rim. Fayette was able to counter by going to senior guard Rikkelle Miller. Miller added two 3-pointers in the first quarter to give Fayette a 14-11 lead. She heated up throughout the game and finished with 13 points and several rebounds.
McIntosh tried to contain both senior guards, but couldn’t find an answer for their size and elite speed. Fayette wore them down with transition baskets that were generated off defensive turnovers.
The turnovers were the result of a full-court press that frustrated the Chiefs. Fayette County junior guard Sidney Sims made life difficult for McIntosh’s top scorer, Rylee Calhoun, and forced her away from her favorite spots on the floor. Calhoun scored just 8 points and was virtually a non-factor. The Chief offense became stagnant at key points in the game. Only junior guard Kennedy Miller reached double figures with 17 points.
McIntosh was outpaced in all four quarters and scored just 21 points after halftime.
“They were quick and like to get out on the break a lot,” Strickland said. “It was good to slow their pace.”
Fayette moved to 10-4 on the season and stayed undefeated in region play. McIntosh, after having beaten Morrow the night before, sits at 4-8 overall and 1-3 in region.
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