MONTGOMERY — Coming into Thursday’s game against Lee-Montgomery, the Central-Phenix City Red Devils knew they had to go all out in order to have a chance. Despite their best efforts, the Red Devils left Montgomery with a loss.
The Red Devils could not keep up with the high-flying Generals, as Lee-Montgomery rode a dominant second quarter to an 85-59 victory. The loss ends Central’s season in the Class 7A Regional Semifinals; Lee-Montgomery, meanwhile, moves on to play the winner of Auburn High and Jeff Davis on Tuesday in the regional finals.
“We’ve been plagued all season with turnovers, and I think they turned the heat up on us a little bit in that second quarter. They started running and jumping us. We worked on it, but I don’t guess we worked on it enough,” Central coach Bobby Wright said after the Red Devils had 26 turnovers. “We had some turnovers, and most of those turnovers were self-inflicted. We just made some bad decisions and some bad passes, and with a team like Lee you can’t do that.”
Central (12-13) kept up with Lee-Montgomery (30-1) in the early going until the Generals dictated the game’s pace and never looked back.
Central trailed 20-16 in the first minutes of the second quarter before Lee took total control by piecing together a 19-6 run over the course of six minutes that the Red Devils never recovered from. The situation repeated itself again and again during the scoring streak: Lee-Montgomery penetrated the paint with ease — and often got every rebound that followed a rare miss — while Central tried to play fast only for a turnover to kill possession after possession.
By the time Lee’s De’marquiese Miles drove hard into the paint, drew a foul, made the shot and the ensuing free throw, the Generals held a 15-point advantage with 90 seconds left until halftime. The Generals kept that pace up with four more unanswered points, leaving the Red Devils in a 19-point hole with two quarters to go.
The halftime stats clearly spelled out what had sent Central from in contention to on its way home. The Red Devils gave up 32 points in the paint in the first two quarters, and they were outscored 14-0 in second-chance opportunities in the game’s first 16 minutes.
The Red Devils did their best to close the gap with 11 third-quarter points and 26 more in the fourth, but by that point the damage was done.
Xavier Carnes led Central with 16 points in the loss. Carnes was the only Red Devil to reach double-digit points, as Jerrell Bellamy and Karmello English each contributed nine points.
For Lee, Miles was the Generals’ top scorer with 16 points. Teammate Jakel Williams contributed 13 points as well.
Thursday’s loss was a disappointing end to an up-and-down season for the Red Devils As Wright prepared to walk into the locker room to address the team, he said his message was going to remind them what being a Red Devil is all about.
“We’re still Central. Even though we were young this year and didn’t have the kind of season we’re used to having, our work is not done,” Wright said. “We’ll back next year. We’re going to work starting Monday to be back next year.”