PEEBLES – Momentum can be a tricky thing.
One minute, it’s on your side and every shot you take is falling. The next second, however, you can find yourself in a battle for a victory.
That’s precisely what happened to the Peebles Indians on Friday, Jan. 8 against the Ripley Blue Jays. Peebles jumped out to a big lead at halftime but had to withstand a second-half surge by the Blue Jays en route to a 51-48 victory.
The Indians and Blue Jays traded blows in the first quarter. Peebles jumped out to a 9-3 lead, but Ripley out-scored the Indians 7-5 over the final 2:53 to pull within four at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, however, Ripley’s offense disappeared. Peebles out-scored the Blue Jays 15-4 in the quarter, taking what appeared to be a commanding 29-15 lead into halftime. Ripley head coach Marty Adams noted his squad was missing a rather important piece of their defense due to injury.
“We’re missing, arguably, our best defender,” Adams said. “Jordan Griffith went out Monday with a concussion in practice, so he’s out at least until next Friday.”
Offensively, the Blue Jays could not move the ball around against the Peebles defense, which made scoring points in the quarter difficult.
“Usually, for us, when we don’t do well on offense it’s because we’re standing around and not executing our offense,” Adams said. “It’s everybody, it’s not just one guy. We couldn’t get that movement. They’re a good defensive team, they’re a little bigger than us and they got in the passing lanes and made things difficult. Give credit to them for doing it, but we have to get better movement on offense.”
It didn’t seem to matter in the third quarter who played defense for the Blue Jays, as the squad held the Indians scoreless for six minutes. Peebles’ first basket of the half came from Tanner Arey with 2:11 left. Ripley would see three different players hit three-pointers in the quarter, which cut the Indians’ lead to 35-30 as the fourth quarter began.
Ripley was unable to carry that momentum to the start of the fourth. Peebles scored the first five points of the fourth quarter, pushing the lead back up to 11, 41-30. Adams said a lack of communication on defense allowed the Indians to make the run.
“We’d subbed some guys to give people some breaks after we made that run and I think we had some matchup problems,” Adams said. “We didn’t communicate on defense so we had some bad matchups and they made that run. We turned it over a few times and it kind of snowballed from there.”
Ripley righted the ship, however, and a 12-4 run over the next four minutes brought the team within three points with 1:23 remaining. The teams would combine to score 12 more points in the final 83 seconds, but a Josh Deaton three-pointer from the top of the key fell short as time expired, giving Peebles the victory.
The teams combined to score 34 points in the fourth quarter, more than the Jays had scored in the entire game prior. Peebles head coach Josh Arey said things like that happen sometimes, and credited the Blue Jays for hitting difficult shots that kept them in the game.
“It’s funny how this game goes sometimes,” Arey said. “They hit some pretty difficult shots, hit a few threes and got into the paint and made some layups. We just kind of answered back and forth. We were able to hit our free-throws late, which ended up being the deciding factor in the game. Our kids didn’t quit, they continued to play hard even when things weren’t going their way.”
Laymon Marshall hit a few difficult shots by himself. Marshall hit a deep three-pointer with less than 10 seconds left to pull the Blue Jays within two. Before that, he hit a pair of running shots in the paint that somehow found the bottom of the net. Adams said Marshall isn’t necessarily expected to carry the offensive load every time he takes the court, but the fact that he can put points up quickly is a bonus.
“He’s always been small, so he’s always had to face a lot bigger guys,” Adams said. “He’s always been a great player, a smart player. That’s why it’s nice to have him and Brian [Dunn] both out there to run the point. Laymon’s more of the point guard than the scoring guard but he can score and he made some big shots for us.”
Josh Deaton hit a three-pointer with 1:47 left in the game, but it was waived off for travelling. Deaton would miss another three-point shot at the buzzer and finished the game with eight points. Marshall would finish the game as the Blue Jays’ leading scorer, tallying 10 points. Dalton Moran chipped in six, all of which came in the fourth quarter.
“[Moran’s] one of those defensive players but he’s really worked hard on his offense,” Adams said. “He’s come up with some big buckets in some games this year. He gets the ball to the middle off the dribble and he’s strong for a little guy. He’s a big spark.”
Arey was complimentary of the Blue Jays’ effort during the game, noting the squad never gave up despite facing a large deficit in the first half.
“I thought the Ripley kids showed a lot of heart,” Arey said. “I think we were up 17 points or so in the first half and it’d be easy to pack it in for the evening but they came out and played with a lot of fire. Credit to Marty and his staff for that.”
Adams and the Blue Jays took the court Saturday afternoon against Lewis County and lost 61-50. It doesn’t get any easier for the Blue Jays going forward, as the squad has a pair of tough games this weekend. The team hosts Fayetteville at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15 and Georgetown at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 16.
“We have to take it game by game,” Adams said. “I’m happy with the defense. We don’t have guys that can score. We just have to work harder on things in practice. Sometimes it can creep into guy’s minds, the record, but we just have to keep our heads up, keep battling every day and everybody on the team has to make everyone better. I think they’ve been doing that the last week or so.”