West Memphis blanks Searcy late to clinch win
By Billy Woods WM School District
SEARCY — West Memphis senior Dylan Gazo has the one diminishing skill that basketball teams at every level are in dire need of. Gazo’s shooting stroke ignited the Blue Devils Tuesday night to a 38-31 victory over Searcy. With the hosts running out to a 12-7 lead midway through the second quarter in a game that progressed at a snail’s pace, West Memphis head coach Larry Bray turned to Gazo on the bench and inserted the 5-11 guard, and all he did was score nine points in less than two minutes to completely turn the game around. “Shooting covers up a lot of mistakes,” Bray said. “Dylan was able to spot up and get some shots off. He took advantage of it.” Gazo, who scored his game total during that less-than-two-minute span, hit two three-pointers and then was fouled on a three-point attempt before making all three free throws . Add in a layup by senior Robert Harris, who led all scorers with 12 points, and the Blue Devils (8-7 overall, 1-1 in the 7A/6A-East Conference) found themselves up 21-14. West Memphis led 21-16 at halftime. “Dylan hasn’t been playing a lot lately, but he’s had a great attitude the whole time,” said Bray. “Even when he’s not playing he’s sitting on the bench and encouraging all the other players. He’s always getting up and greeting those guys when they come out of the game. Those are just some of the things we’ve noticed about him and I’m just real proud of him the way he conducts himself.” Playing at their usual leisurely pace, the Lions (4-9, 0-2) tried to shorten the game and keep possessions at a minimum. They accomplished that objective, but Gazo’s spurt was all West Memphis needed. The Blue Devils never trailed again in the game, although Searcy tied it briefly 27-27 with 2:35 to play in the third quarter. West Memphis led 30-27 heading into the fourth quarter and with the game still in the balance with 1:19 to play, the Blue Devils had already scored their final field goal of the night. The rest was nothing but tough defense and adequate free-throw shooting. The West Memphis defense held Searcy to zero for five shooting, which included three three-point attempts, in the final minute. “I thought we were in (Searcy’s) face, challenging shots, but what we’ve got to do better is rebound,” Bray added. “We’re small and a lot of times tonight I thought we were standing around and looking instead of boxing out on those missed shots.” Harris nailed two free throws with 1:19 to play to make it 36-31 West Memphis and then Deshaun Boston and Ahmere Albert both split a pair of attempts to put the game away. Albert added seven points to the West Memphis cause. Searcy got seven points from Michael Money while Kaleb Ramsey had six and Jeremiah Clifton and Noah McMinn scored five apiece. The Blue Devils host Cabot on Friday night.