By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Dyer County Choctaws were off to a solid start Friday night in the Brighton Gymnasium jumping out to a 23-13 lead after 8 minutes.
The host Brighton Cardinals displayed some fight in the opening moment of the second quarter with a 12-6 run. The Cardinals had a chance to trim the deficit to 29-26 with a foul shot at the line.
But the tally remain 29-25 with the missed free throw. That moment sparked a 15-6 Choctaws to close the first half.
Brighton Head Coach Stan Gatlin acknowledged the turning point game after the whistle for the foul called in the second quarter leading to an 85-70 Dyer County victory.
“I made a substitution at that point,” he acknowledged. “It’s on me. That one is on me. I was trying to give guys a breather thinking we could maintain until we get those other guys a blow. By at that time they took momentum just like that.”
After falling behind 23-13 in the first quarter, the Cardinals tried to fight back starting with an Anthony Smith basket in the paint to make the score 23-15. After a Dyer County bucket, Brighton’s Darrien Lewis hit a shot to cut the deficit to single digits again.
Cardinal point guard Martez Logan hit a pair of free throws to make the score 25-19. The Choctaws pulled off back-to-back baskets to make the tally 29-19.
Brighton responded with a 6-0 run courtesy of Logan and Lewis scoring the points. The Brighton Gymnasium scoreboard read 29-25 in favor of Dyer County with the Cardinals at the line with a chance to conclude a three-point play.
After the miss foul shot, Dyer County snatched the rebound and momentum. The Choctaws closed out the first half to obtain a 44-31 advantage at the break.
The Choctaws outscored Brighton 41-39 to earn the District 13-3A win and send the Cardinals to 0-1 in league play.
“As I told them in there, ‘Last year we started district off with a loss,’” Gatlin said. “’We went on a 12 game winning streak.’ It’s not like this is unfamiliar territory. We can regain momentum like in this game. We’ve faced this before like earlier this year against Westwood. We were down 12 or 13 against them. We fought back and won that game. They are 14-1 right now.
“With us it all depends on which team shows up,” Gatlin concluded. “We didn’t start the game off right tonight. It was a 10-point first quarter. That’s the a hole we can never put ourselves into.”