Late threes help Russellville survive Colbert County rally

By Staff
Mike Self, FCT Sports Editor
LEIGHTON – Trailing by double digits at halftime of Friday's game, Colbert County had no choice but to turn up the heat on Russellville with full-court pressure.
The strategy paid dividends early in the fourth quarter as the Indians forced several turnovers and went on a 13-0 run to take a one-point lead.
Soon thereafter, however, Colbert County found out the hard way why most teams choose not to risk pressing Russellville.
Junior guard Cory Trapp burned the Indians with four critical three-pointers in transition down the stretch as the Golden Tigers regrouped and continued their march toward a 20-win season with a 70-65 victory.
"We turned the ball over a lot early in the fourth quarter, but after that we got our composure back," said Trapp, who made nine threes on the night and finished with 29 points. "We can usually break a team's press pretty quickly, and once we figured out theirs tonight we started beating it every time. That's when we got some open looks."
Russellville (19-6) carried a 49-37 lead into the fourth quarter on the strength of 11 three-pointers, but the Indians came storming back. They took their first lead of the second half at 50-49 on a jumper by Charles Horne with 5:40 remaining.
"We were too careless with the basketball tonight, and not just in the second half when they started pressing us," RHS coach Michael Smith said. "We had 11 turnovers at halftime, and that didn't have anything to do with their pressure. Then in the second half, that was the first time in a long time that somebody has been that effective against us with full-court pressure.
"Cory was able to get some open looks on the fast break down the stretch. That's why teams don't press us more often."
Trapp hit a three with 4:20 left to put Russellville back on top 53-52, but the Indians answered with a three of their own to retake the lead.
A basket by Justin Thorne tied the game 55-55, but Colbert County went back in front on a three-point play by Corian Goodwin with 2:44 remaining.
Trapp tied the game again with a three-pointer, but Demarkus Underwood responded with a basket underneath to give the Indians a 60-58 lead.
Trapp drained another trey with 1:45 remaining to make it 61-60, but Underwood scored inside again to put Colbert County back in front.
Finally, Trapp's ninth three of the night gave Russellville the lead for good at 64-62 with 1:06 left to play. Thorne then came up with a key blocked shot, and Siran Winston scored on a putback to make it 66-62.
Winston and Caleb Mitchell each made a pair of free throws in the final minute to help seal the win as Russellville capped off a 4-0 week and improved to 18-1 this season in non-area games.
The Golden Tigers will go for win No. 20 Monday night against Hartselle.
"Twenty wins was a goal we set for ourselves before the season," Smith said. "We also set a goal to win all of our home games. We won't be able to get that one, but we still have a chance to win 20 games."
Trapp made nine threes in a game for the third time this season, including twice against Colbert County.
"They play a lot of zone defense, and I'm able to get open looks," he said. "Siran and the other guys do a good job of finding me when I get open."
The Golden Tigers made 15 threes on Friday after hitting 12 in Thursday's win over Deshler. They're showing signs of shooting the ball the way they did back in December when they opened the season 6-0.
"I hope so," Smith said. "Confidence is very important when it comes to shooting, and I think we're getting that confidence back again. That will be a huge plus for us."
Winston finished with 12 points, and Thorne added eight. Jordan Hammond had six on a pair of three-pointers.
Horne led Colbert County with 14 points, and Jamarcus Garner added 13.