Devils edge Rosspoint for county title
Wallins boys follow girls’ lead with unbeaten season
By John Henson Sports Editor
It’s a good year to be purple.
The Wallins Purple Devils capped a season of perfection for the fifth- and sixth-grade basketball teams at Wallins Elementary School, matching the perfect season compiled by the girls team with a 42-41 victory over Rosspoint in the county championship game Tuesday at James A. Cawood Elementary School.
“This is a great group. The biggest thing I worried about was getting complacent since we had some big wins early,” Wallins coach Stan Nicely said. “But they never did. They came in and worked and did what we asked. They understood what it was going to take. They wanted to go undefeated in the county and win the county championship.”
Nicely coached the Devils to a 19-0 mark this season and led the Lady Devils to a 17-0 record in the fall.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve had two great groups of kids,” Nicely said. “People were congratulating me after the game, and that’s nice, but it’s all the kids. They do all the work and score all the points. It’s all about them.”
Wallins featured an effective inside-outside combination all season with center Elisha Smallwood and guards Taylor Spurlock, Tyler Cole and Devin Eldridge taking turns leading the offense. Brett Roark and Noah Saylor shared time at the forward slot to round out the lineup.
“We’ve had four kids on any given night who could be our leading scorer,” Nicely said. “A lot of nights we’d pound it in to Elisha. There were nights when Taylor or Tyler would take over, and tonight it was Devin with his steals and layups. Isaiah Anglin also gave us a lift off the bench with Taylor in foul trouble.”
The Devils needed a big game from Eldridge on Tuesday to win with Spurlock and Cole limited to two points each. Eldridge created havoc on defense, leading to numerous transition baskets in a 26-point effort.
“Eldridge is our best defensive player, and we always put him out front to try to disrupt things out there,” Nicely said.
Smallwood provided an inside threat for the Devils with 12 points.
Rosspoint featured a balanced attack of its own with Hunter Helton scoring 15, Josh Turner adding 11 and Jacob Brown tossing in 10. The Wildcats stayed close with 3-pointers, hitting seven.
“Our gameplan was to limit penetration and make them shoot over us, and they did,” Nicely said. “Rosspoint’s kids played their guts out. Ralph Napier’s teams improve every year, and they gave us all we wanted. They have a lot to be proud of.”
Eldridge dominated the first quarter with his defense, scoring eight points off turnovers as Wallins grabbed a quick 14-2 lead.
Spurlock went out late in the period with his second foul and Rosspoint battled back, cutting the deficit to 26-19 by halftime.
Wallins maintained a seven-point lead going into the final quarter before Rosspoint made a late run, getting as close as one in the final minute. Turner missed a jumper in the closing seconds and Wallins came up with the rebound and the championship.
Evarts captured third place with a 37-29 win over Cawood. Kobe Burkhart and Dylan Burkhart each scored nine for the Wildcats.
Cawood was led by James Smith and his 12 points.
Wallins (42) — Devin Eldridge 26, Elisha Smallwood 12, Tyler Cole 2, Taylor Spurlock 2.
Rosspoint (41) — Hunter Helton 15, Josh Turner 11, Jacob Brown 10, Matt Brown 5.
Evarts (37) — Dylan Burkhart 9, Kobe Burkhart 9, Bradley Milwee 7, Evan Aslinger 6, Jordan Steele 4, Christian Boggs 2.
Cawood (29) — James Smith 12, James Gray 9, Jared Creech 7, Stephen Daniel 1.
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