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Wesson Cobras go Bear hunting

The Wesson Cobras relied on their size and speed to overpower a hot-shooting West Lincoln team Tuesday night, managing to stay dry during a downpour of Bear baskets to win 63-53.

The big snakes managed to survive on one end of the court and thrive on the other, slowing down the Bears just enough on defense while scoring at will on offense. The Cobras started the fourth quarter with a 15-point lead, but a vicious West Lincoln shooting assault narrowed the lead to 57-50 with 1:11 remaining in the game before Wesson’s defense finally slammed the door and slithered out of the Bears’ grasp.

“We were really good on offense, and our press defense got them, really,” said Wesson junior J.D. Allen. “We just did our thing.”

Allen was a force on offense for Wesson, scoring 15 points that included a three ball and a pair of free throws. He scored six of his points in Wesson’s big third quarter, in which junior guard Shemar Dickerson dropped 13 points through the net to make a team total of 23. Dickerson had 18 points on the night.

Those 23 points in the third did much to help the Cobras win the game, because the fourth quarter saw West Lincoln senior Adam Martinez take over the game with shot after shot and free throw after free throw. The Bears fed him the ball on almost every possession late, and he had little trouble driving into the paint or pulling up and nailing jump shots.

Martinez finished the game with 21 points, scoring on nine of 16 free throw attempts, most of which came late in the fourth as the Bears made a sharp slash at getting back into the game.

The Bears’ effort was not enough to catch up to the Cobras. Even as West Lincoln was scorching the net late, Wesson players were lining up at the stripe on the other end of the court — nine of the Cobras’ 15 fourth-quarter points came on free throws as the Bears were forced to foul in the final minute.

As the last minute ran out, Wesson fed the ball to junior forward Jontavious Smith, who collected a ton of Bear fouls and hit five of eight free throws in the fourth. Senior point guard Dell Thigpen, who spent the night leading the offense and feeding the ball to his shooters, added his two points from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

“It was an ugly win, but a win is a win. I’m proud of my guys for getting the victory tonight,” said Wesson head coach Rusty Newman. “We played physical and made them play up to our tempo.”

West Lincoln coach Brooks Smith lamented his team’s missed opportunities — the Bears hit 23 of their 39 free throws for 59 percent and turned the ball over eight times. Those numbers are really not bad, but for 2A West Lincoln to pull a win over 3A Wesson, the play must be tighter.

“It could have been a different game,” Smith said. “It is good to have the football players back on the roster, good to have these bodies around. But they’re going to have to get used to what a round ball feels like.”