Indians misfire on layups in loss to Dixie County

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By Sean Arnold

If there was an encouraging development for Chiefland in their loss to Dixie County Jan. 16, it was that the Indians, despite missing so many layups and struggling to find much momentum on offense beyond point guard Jalen Rutledge, remained in the game until the final two minutes, trailing by just six points at one point in the final quarter.

But the misses proved too costly in the end, as the Bears pulled away in the final moments, stretching out their advantage for a 79-63 win in Chiefland.

Dixie County is still alive for the No. 2 seed in District 1A-7 after beating Trenton 61-53 on Jan. 22. Bell is the top seed.

After trailing by as much as 15 in the third quarter, Chiefland got its deficit down to 54-48 early in the four on an Austin Adams floater. Dixie County responded with back-to-back buckets, including one off a pickpocket takeaway, before L.J. Jenkins converted on three free throws to get Chiefland back within seven.

The Bears continued to toy with a double-digit margin however, and CMHS junior Payne Parnell gave his team its final single-digit margin of deficit with three free throws just before the two-minute mark.

Chiefland absorbed a 5-0 Dixie run out of the gate to take a 15-13 lead into the second quarter. While the Indians went 1 for 6 on 3s in the opening frame, Rutledge steadied the ship with a six-point quarter, a harbinger of what was to come from the sophomore, who topped all scorers with 26 points. Rutledge finished 8 for 10 from the foul line.

Two quick Chiefland turnovers to open the second quarter tipped the balance back in favor of Dixie for good. A 3-pointer by Adams narrowed the gap to 30-26 with three minutes remaining in the half, before the Bears went on an 8-0 run, eventually grabbing a 40-28 edge to take into the break.

The missed shots, and most frustratingly, the missed layups, started to pile up in the third, undermining any gains Chiefland was making in other areas against a speedy Dixie squad.

“The multiple opportunities, there were at least five clean opportunities,” CMHS coach Adam Boyd said. “I always say, we earn those – we get a steal, we read the backdoor and hit him (with a pass), we get an offensive rebound. It wasn’t like we got nudged or challenged – it’s wide open. I told them we’re winning that game if we just (make those shots).”

James Smith and Carlos Williams led the Bears with 17 points apiece, while Aaron Dawson added 15.

“We were a step slow on our pressure today for some reason,” Boyd said of his defense. “They weren’t anticipating like they were. I told them, ‘When you’re rotations are slow and you’re not sprinting, and the team has decent ball handlers, that’s what’s going to happen. You gotta move, live and learn.’”

Boyd also lamented his players prematurely picking up their dribbles.

Rutledge was the only Indian in double figures. Parnell tallied nine points, and Adams and Quay Brodus tacked on seven apiece.