PINSON — Pinson Valley simply could not defend an athletic Ramsay team that brought the Indians’ season to an end on Friday night.
The visiting Rams spread the floor and cut their way through Pinson 75-66 for a berth in the Northwest Regionals next week at Wallace State-Hanceville.
“They do a really good job of spreading the floor out and taking you out of where you want to be [defensively], and we weren’t in position to stop penetration,” said Pinson head coach Clint Argo.
After a tightly-contested first half, two Indian starters were benched in the opening minutes of the second due to foul trouble. Junior forward Johnathan Marable was whistled for his third foul just moments after an inbound. Center Kerry Griffith would join him on the pine minutes later after receiving his third personal.
“Their bigs got in foul trouble, and we were able to get some transition baskets and hit a couple of shots while they were out,” said Rams head coach Kelly Cheatham.
With both of Pinson’s post players benched, Ramsay charged out to a 10-0 run to start the half.
“It hurt having both of our post players in foul trouble at the same time,” said Argo. “When you’re not good defensively, you foul.”
The Area 11 champs refused to go quietly on their home floor. Sophomore guard Donevan Waldrop pursued his own miss, ripped it from the hands of a unsuspecting Ram and found an open Zack Jackson for an easy lay-in to cut the deficit to four late in the third period.
With Marable and Griffith back on the floor, Pinson was able to fight to within two early in the fourth, but saw the gap widen as time went on.
Sophomore Jonathan Ethridge delivered the knockout punch with his outside strike from right of the circle. His triple gave the Rams a 61-51 advantage with 3:35 remaining. The Indians were never able to climb back from there.
Ramsay’s clutch performance from the charity stripe made a late Pinson rally impossible. The visitors shot 83 percent from the line in the final quarter of play (15-of-18).
“Anytime we get inside three minutes with a good lead, we know making free throws could win,” said Cheatham.
Marcus Merriweather was the game’s leading scorer. The senior provided Pinson with 22 points and four rebounds. Despite his foul troubles, Marable finished with a double-double—16 points and 10 boards.
Brinston Story led the Rams with 19 points.