Thorsby and Verbena play a pair of close games
By Brandon Sumrall | Special to the Advertiser
Those in attendance at Verbena High School on Friday night were treated to two thrilling basketball games, as the Thorsby Lady Rebels survived a late Red Devils comeback to win 52-46 while the Verbena varsity boys snuck by and survived a late push by the Rebels to win 56-53.
The early minutes of the varsity girls game saw the two teams trade baskets at will as they played through a six-all tie before a three from Lily Barnett pushed the Rebels out in front by three.
The lead did not last long, as a basket and free throw from Janiya White tied the game at 10.
Barnett took over the offense for Thorsby during the closing two minutes, scoring seven consecutive baskets to give the Rebels a 17-12 lead at the end of the first period.
A pair of baskets by White and Candice Williams pulled the Red Devils to within one early in the second period, but another three from Barnett gave Thorsby a four-point lead, 22-18.
A basket from Emily Jones was answered by a basket from White to keep the Rebel lead at four, 24-20 at the half.
The Rebel defense was the story in the third period as a full court press resulted in multiple Red Devil turnovers and a 14-0 Thorsby run put the Rebels way out in front 38-20.
White finally brought an end to the Thorsby run with a free throw and a 3-point basket, but the damage had been done, as Thorsby took a commanding 48-25 lead into the final period.
With Thorsby sporting a 25-point lead and just under five minutes to go, White put the Red Devils on her back and brought Verbena storming back.
With a basket at the 5:11 mark of the fourth, White went on to score an astounding 21 points before the final buzzer.
Despite the offensive firepower put up by White, the Red Devils came up just short, 52-46.
White led all scorers with a career high 37 points along with 10 rebounds and seven steals.
Barnett led the Rebels with 26 points, six rebounds and six steals.
With the varsity boys playing through an eight-all tie to open their game, a basket from Tristan Short put Verbena out in front by three but was answered by a basket for Bailey Sellers to cut the Red Devil lead to one.
Baskets from Juwan Tyus and Anthony Miller brought an end to the first period with Verbena leading 18-12.
Consecutive baskets by Michael Fortner along with a basket from Logan Patterson to start the second tied the game at 18, but Tyus and Miller again combined to put Verbena out in front by four.
A 3-point play by Fortner helped cut the Red Devil lead to one and with a basket from Jeremiah Bolling, Thorsby took a 23-22 lead.
Cain Niece made the lead three but it was answered once again by the tandem of Miller and Tyus to put Verbena back out in front by two.
Back-to-back 3-point baskets from Tyus and a basket from Miller sent the game to the half with Verbena leading 35-25.
A back-and-forth battle through the third period saw the two teams exchange basket for basket with the Red Devils leading by as many as 15.
With just 15 seconds remaining in the third, a basket from Dakota Merrell cut the lead to 13 and sent the game to the final period with Verbena leading 50-37.
With 6:13 to play, a basket from Fortner ignited a 14-4 Thorsby run that drew the Rebels to within one with just 32 seconds to play.
A one-and-one opportunity for Niece at the free throw line with just eight ticks remaining did not help the Rebels’ cause while Tyus knocked down a pair of free throws to put Verbena ahead by three with just three seconds remaining.
After a Red Devil timeout, a quick inbound pass and a half court prayer from Fortner fell just short to seal the 56-53 Red Devil win.
Tyus led Verbena with 31 points, 14 rebounds four steals and one block.
Fortner picked up 31 points for the Rebels with 11 rebounds, four steals and a block.