For the first time since the Zebra Invitational in December, Dollarway appeared to play a whole game as the Cardinals defeated conference rival Stuttgart 58-45 Tuesday night at home.
“We played about three good quarters,” Dollarway head coach Ellis “Chief” Berry said. “But we got another quarter that we got to work on.
“Once we get that last quarter going, we will be about ready to play some basketball.”
Dollarway (5-2, 3-1 in 2-4A) had a 10-point lead over Stuttgart (7-7, 2-4) heading into the fourth quarter, but an 8-2 run by the Ricebirds to start the final period got it within four points.
Stuttgart sophomore Lexus Hobbs scored eight points as part of the run and it cut Dollarway’s lead to 42-38 forcing the Cardinals to call a timeout.
Dollarway’s Gujuan Christmas and Kabion Ento scored back-to-back buckets following the break and pushed the Cardinals lead back up to eight.
“We had it at four,” Stuttgart head coach Lance Davis said. “They got an easy bucket and put it at six.
“We got called for a carry and they came down again and scored and put it at eight.”
Hobbs hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to start the fourth quarter and get the Ricebirds within seven. Following a bucket by Dollarway senior Josh Liddell, Hobbs hit a second three-pointer and a quick two to get within 42-38.
Hobbs finished with a game-high 16 points.
“I was glad Hobbs came up big right there,” Davis said.
A pair of free throws made by Kamaree Ento gave the Cardinals a 10-point lead with 3:46 left in the game.
“We raised up our level of intensity,” Berry said. “(Hobbs) was on fire and we didn’t rotate on defense to close up some holes.
“But once we did that, everything started going back our way.”
Dollarway extended its lead to 50-38 following a bucket by Darius Robinson. With less than 2:30 left, Robinson scored again to push the Cardinals lead to 52-38.
Dollarway continued to struggle shooting-wise, making just 22 of 51 from the floor. The Cardinals grabbed 26 rebounds and turned it over 10 times. Stuttgart grabbed 26 rebounds as well and turned it over 15 times.
“The difference was, they made some buckets when they need to,” Davis said. “Then when I pressured them, they were able to get to the basket.
“They handled our press well.”
Liddell led the Cardinals with 13 points. Christmas finished with nine points and Kabion Ento had eight.
Dollarway was 9 of 20 from the free throw line.
“That’s our weakness right now,” Berry said. “We got to do a lot of work on our free throws.
“Once we start making free throws, everything will be going pretty good for us.”
Berry chalked up Dollarway’s free throw troubles to a lack of concentration.
For Stuttgart, senior Alante Stewart finished with 14 points. Davis said junior Dewaine Minter struggled with his shots Tuesday night.
“We had shots that normally we would have made,” Davis said. “…And we didn’t have enough possessions.
“We needed more guys to be involved in the scoring.”
Dollarway will travel to Clinton on Friday.
“Physically, we are ready to go on the road,” Berry said. “Mentally, we got to be prepared and play well.
“In order to be a good team, you got to win on the road.”
Stuttgart 51, Dollarway 49
After both teams scored a combined six points in the first quarter, the Lady Ricebirds went on to beat the Lady Cardinals by two points Tuesday night.
Stuttgart’s Tiffany Gibson scored a game-high 18 points while Haley Johnson contributed with nine points. Shacara Humbert chipped in with six for the Lady Ricebirds (8-6, 3-3 in 2-4A).
Jayana Sanders, who finished the night with 17 points, led Dollarway (1-5, 1-4).
Stuttgart led Dollarway 21-16 at halftime.