Photo by Jerry Jackson
Drew guard Forest Redd (right) tries to apply pressure on Union Grove guard Sean Williams in the first half of the teams’ Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A contest.
RIVERDALE — Heading into the fourth quarter, the Region 4A-AAAAA clash between Drew and visiting Union Grove was anybody’s contest. An energized Drew defense and key baskets by Brandon Clyde made the biggest claims for victory and the Titans surged ahead for a 74-62 victory.
“We did a better job of rotating, matching up and closing out on their shooters,” said Drew head coach Jarrod Davis. “We made some halftime adjustments to some of the things they were doing, so we were able to cut off some of their gaps and keep them in front of us.”
Tied 51-51 at the start of the final quarter, the Titans wasted no time in establishing a lead. A Doventa Cacok tip, followed by a Willie Glass hoop and a Clyde drive and score gave Drew a 57-51 lead with 6:00 left. In the quarter’s first couple minutes, the Titans’ defense turned over the Wolverines two times and forced several hurried shots.
More defensive pressure led to a Clyde one-on-two fastbreak in which he finished for a three-point play and 66-56 lead with 2:50 left.
After getting into foul trouble in the first half, Clyde scored all nine of his points in the second half. “We were able to hold him out and the game didn’t get away from us,” Davis said. “With him coming back in the second half with three fouls, he played a little looser and was able to attack the basket a little easier.”
Demarco Hill led Drew with 18 points and Demarco Smith and Cacok each added 12.
Jay Shorts had 20 points for Union Grove and Caleb Ham and Sean Williams notched 15 and 12, respectively.
Union Grove head coach Russ Atkins agreed the Drew defense was the difference in the game.
“I told my team at the start of the fourth quarter that whoever plays the best defense, doesn’t turn the ball over and makes their free throws is going to win the game,” Atkins said.
The Wolverines dropped to 10-6 overall and 3-3 in region play. “We are in a good spot right now,” Atkins said. “We don’t want to be playing the best we can in December and January. We want to be playing the best we can in February.”
A Forest Redd dish to Hill put Drew up 37-30 with 2:05 left in the second quarter. A couple of jumpers by Shorts keyed an 8-2 Union Grove run and the Titans led 39-38 at halftime.
Hill picked up a loose ball and drove for a score in the final seconds of the first quarter to put Drew up 19-18.
Ham erased an early 4-0 deficit as he scored Union Grove’s first nine points of the game to give the Wolverines a 9-6 lead with 4:35 left in the first quarter.
Drew (5-7, 4-2) was playing without starters David White and Lester Knauls. The Titans will visit Ola on Friday.
Union Grove will host Mundy’s Mill on Friday.