West Memphis turns away Mountain Home
By Billy Woods WM School District
When Hall of Famer Gene Bartow was the head basketball coach at Memphis State in the 1970s he was often fond of saying, “you shoot good, you look good.” That held true for the West Memphis Blue Devils last Friday night at Lehr Arena as they shot a sizzling .567 percentage from the field in defeating Mountain Home 57-45. Sticking to his recent platoon philosophy running five in and five out, head coach Larry Bray saw 10 of his player notch their names in the scoring column, but with only one double-figure scorer. That was enough to please the Big Blue mentor. “The style we played is good for intensity,” said Bray. “With time we’ll get even better with it. We shot the ball well and that’s always good to see and we pretty much took good care of the ball.” Mountain Home (5-14 overall, 1-5 in the 7A/6A-East Conference) plays with much less pace than do normal teams, thus offensive possessions are limited and the margin for error can sometimes be smaller. “You have to make sure you execute when you play Mountain Home,” said Bray. “We didn’t get any easy baskets in transition, but we were looking for something good every time down the floor. I also think we took advantage of some mismatches on the floor.” West Memphis (10-8, 3-3) never trailed and only once did Mountain Home pull even with the hosts and that was at the 2:34 mark of the first quarter when it was 7-7. As Bray alluded to, the Blue Devils took good care of the ball, committing only nine turnovers on the night, six of which came in the third quarter, and they played error-free in the fourth quarter while sinking 5 of the 6 shots they took from the floor. Leading 16-10 at the end of the first quarter, Bray’s squad immediately set about building on that cushion when Deshon Boston hit a 10-foot runner to open the half and that was followed up with a three-pointer by Dylan Gazo, who led the Blue Devils with 11 points for a 21-10 advantage. The lead got as high as 31-17 early in the third quarter before the turnovers led to the Bombers making a mild run, cutting the lead to 38-31 at the end of the stanza. “(Mountain Home) was trying to play slower and we were trying to speed them up, but tonight it kind of helped us because I think it made us focus a little tighter,” Bray added. “I think it made us think a little more about what we were doing.” Gazo’s 11 points were followed by Kevin Smith and Ahmere Albert, each of whom scored seven points. The Blue Devils will play another 7A-East game Tuesday night at home against Little Rock Central. A win over the Tigers would go a long way in helping West Memphis in its bid to make the state tournament. The squad is 1-1 in the 7A-East after beating Cabot a few weeks ago, while losing to North Little Rock last Tuesday night.