Pike County upends Abbeville in area upset

Published 10:12 pm Friday, December 14, 2012

BRUNDIDGE – As Pike County head coach Doug Branson walked off the floor after the game Friday night, he couldn’t help but smile.

Just 24 hours after seeing his team get dominated by Elba, Branson and the Bulldogs went toe-to-toe with one of the top teams in the state, and won.

Deshon Cowling scored nine points in overtime to lead Pike County past No. 11 ranked Abbeville 70-64.

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Branson said that his team “grew up” over the course of the game.

“Those guys played they hearts out tonight,” said Branson. “We grew up quite a bit tonight. To look up in overtime, and see Deshon who’s a freshman, Kamari (Jackson) is a freshman, Jerrell (Lawson) a freshman and Smiley and Larry (Sellers) are sophomores, you think ‘Wow, what are we going to do?’. They all player hard, and this is a great win for the program.”

The Bulldogs trailed by two points, 17-15, after the first quarter but went on a game-changing run in the second stanza to take control.

Ryshawn Hall scored lay ups on three consecutive possessions, with Cowling, Stevie Smiley and Tony Vaznian also scoring buckets.

The Yellow Jackets were able to real in Pike County down the stretch, as all fans in attendance were on their feet as the clock wound down.

Smiley grabbed a rebound, and dropped in a score to give Pike County a 58-56 lead with just 9.8 seconds to go. Abbeville was able to drive the floor and tie the game up with just three seconds left on the clock. Cowling’s desperation heave was off the mark, sending the game to the extra period.

“We just needed to play our game, and we were able to do so,” said Branson. “Abbeville is a great team, and this win can help us get off to a good run in area play. I don’t know how many segments we won tonight, but I do know we won the last one.”

Smiley, Pike County’s low post player, scored 19 points and played what Branson called “his most complete game” of the season.

“He played so hard tonight,” said Branson. “The last two or three games he has really been coming in to his own, and developing has a player. Tonight he got off to a good start with two early buckets, and stayed out of foul trouble. He was huge tonight.”

Cowling led all scorers with 24 points, and took control of the game after Hall fouled out late in regulation.

“Deshon kind of put the team on his back there late,” Branson said. “Ryshawn was out, and we needed someone to step up and he did in a big way.”

The win gave Pike County an early advantage in the area championship race as well. Pike County will play at Carroll (Ozark) on Wednesday, Dec. 19.