Rusty Devils fall to Red Raiders
The Blue Devils traded their cleats for court shoes last week.
Overall, eight of the 14-member varsity basketball team left the gridiron two ago weeks, practicing only three times with the round ball before hitting the court in non-region play.
Last week Elbert (1-4) showed marked improvement over Franklin County.
In their first meeting, the Lions handed the Blue Devils a 10-point loss (69-59) during Elbert’s home opener Nov. 17.
With their reinforcements back in the lineup, the Blue Devils captured their first win of the season, dropping the Lions by six points (63-57) in Carnesville Dec. 1.
Friday night, however, Elbert displayed signs of being rusty against Madison County in Danielsvillle.
The energetic Devils overcame a 13-point Red Raider lead during the fourth period only to fall 78-74 in the end.
While the Devils forced over 30 turnovers, it was missed layups, poor foul shooting and a last-minute technical foul call which cost Elbert the win.
From the stripe, the Devils shot 47 percent or 8-of-17 foul shots compared to the Raiders’ 62 percent or 10-of-16 on the night.
Elbert got off to a fast start due in part to perimeter shooting by senior guard Tanner Mills, who landed three of his six 3-pointers in the first period.
Point guard Tarveil Fortson (senior) recorded 16 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Guard John Cureton added 12 points, one assist, one rebound and three steals, followed by fellow senior Mecole Hardman, who scored 10 points, pulled down six boards and made two steals.
Senior forward Tre Blakely put in three field goals and made six rebounds.
Junior point guard Tay Huff added a field goal, completing Elbert’s score. Huff put two rebounds and one steal on the team stats for the contest.
But Elbert did not have an answer for junior Raider Golston Gillespie.
The 6-foot-3 forward scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half, helping Madison pull away from Elbert.
By the break, Madison held an eight-point lead (44-36) over Elbert.
The Raiders opened up a 13-point lead in the last period before Fortson made a mid-court steal and a fast-break layup to ignite an 8-0 Elbert run around the 4-minute mark.
Hardman followed Fortson’s example with his own grab and score, bringing the Devils within four points of Madison (74-70) with a little under two minutes left in the game.
But on several occasions Elbert’s signature fast-break drives did not result in points.
In the fourth period alone, Elbert missed seven out of 10 foul shots while Madison drained all but one of its eight from the line.
The Devils’ aggressive defense lost its bite as both Fortson, who was rung up for a technical foul for reacting to an official’s call, and Tinch fouled out in the closing minute of play.
“We shot awful from the field all night, (we were lucky) just to be in the game at the end,” said Elbert County Head Basketball Coach Jeff Bennum. “We forced over 30 turnovers, but our half-court defense wasn’t very good in the first half, and we kind of dug us a hole. But we only practiced three times this week, actually three times all year. We’ll be all right. We just got to get back in the gym and practice and get ready for region play in a couple of weeks.”