By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
After a second straight night of lackluster efforts by his Pinson Valley team, basketball coach Clint Argo was at his wit’s end.
“When you shoot 32 percent from the field and 7-of-16 from the free throw line, you’re not going to win ball games,” a frustrated Argo said after the Indians fell to Pleasant Grove 60-52 on Friday.
“We didn’t any hustle plays, and every time there was a loose ball [the Spartans] came up with it. It’s just frustrating,” Argo said. “I don’t know what it is. We’ve gotten in a little slump here, and we don’t know how to get out of it.”
And of all the nights to go cold, they picked one where the opposing big man was red hot.
Maurice Johnson, the Spartans’ 6-foot-4 center, put on a show. He went 8-of-9 on 2-point field goals, including four dunks and a spectacular alley-oop play in the second half. He also hit a pair of 3-pointers to go 10-for-13 from the field (77 percent), and was a perfect 6-for-6 at the foul line for 28 points in all. He also grabbed eight rebounds.
Pinson started out with a slight edge, but eight straight points (including the two triples) by Johnson late in the first period put the Spartans in front by one after eight minutes. It’s a lead Pleasant Grove would never relinquish, though the Indians cut the deficit down to two points with 2:23 left in the third quarter.
But that’s when Johnson cranked up again, with six quick points to pull the advantage back out to seven as the period ended.
Pinson guard Marcus Merriweather struggled mightily in shooting; he scored 11 points but hit just 4-of-18 (22 precent) from the field. Forward Johnathan Marable fared somewhat better, shooting 46 percent to lead the Tribe with 14 points. He also had 11 rebounds.
The Indians’ record now stands at 10-8, but they’ve lost four of their last five games. They travel to Oneonta on Monday night, then host Moody on Tuesday in an Area matchup. The Indians are unbeaten in three area contests.