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Gadsden City upsets Class 5A, No. 1 Wenonah 70-61


Gadsden CIty's Rakim Lubin scored 27 points in the Titans' upset win over Wenonah. (Photo by Nick Johnston | Gadsden Times)


The Gadsden City boys concluded perhaps its strongest two-game stretch of the season with a 70-61 victory over Class 5A, No. 1 Wenonah on Saturday night.

The win came on the heels of a 64-63 road victory over 6A, No. 3 Hoover on Thursday.

In topping the Dragons, the Titans (16-9) never trailed and held off numerous runs while getting strong efforts from Rakim Lubin, who scored 27 points, and Jeff Garrett, who had 16 points.

“Rakim and Jeff are professional basketball players,” Gadsden City coach Reginald Huff said. “They know the game and they give you the best chance to win every time.”

Gadsden City led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter before Wenonah rallied to tie the game. After the Titans regained the momentum by going up by nine points at the break, the Dragons came back to within three in the third quarter before Gadsden City again responded and took an 11-point cushion into the fourth quarter. Wenonah (30-2) never got closer than six in the fourth. The Dragons hit just 7 of 30 from behind the arc in the contest. They also had three starters — Isaiah Maston, Artis Cleveland and DeRunnya Wilson — foul out in the game.

Huff said his team is playing its best basketball heading into the Class 6A, Area 9 tournament that begins Friday at Clay-Chalkville.

“I am overjoyed with the way our guys are responding,” Huff said. “We’re still not where we need to be, but we are climbing, we are jelling at the right time, we’re playing great basketball at the right time. This is the first time I’ve had a team that is playing this way this late in the year. The guys are confident in themselves, the coaching staff is working hard. When people were doubting us, we just rolled up our sleeves and said, ‘Guys, it’s time to go to work.’”

The fast-paced affair began with hot shooting from the Titans. They made four 3-pointers in the first quarter, including a pair from Tevin Wise that staked Gadsden City to an early 8-2 edge. Lubin followed those with a trey of his own to push the advantage to nine.

The Dragons’ trapping defense allowed them to sneak back into it, getting to within 13-8 on a basket by Maston. Lubin hit a shot and Garrett followed with a 3-pointer with 45 seconds to go to give the Titans an 18-8 lead after one quarter.

Chris Dudley kicked off the second quarter with a three to make it a 21-8 game. The first Wenonah run came after that, as Justin Coleman and Marcus Williams led a 13-0 spurt in just under three minutes to knot the game at 21. Coleman, a junior guard with scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, UAB, Arkansas and Kansas State, scored seven points and Williams had six in the run. After each team scored to make it 23-all, Gadsden City found its shooting stroke again, going on an 11-2 run to conclude the second quarter and take a 33-24 lead into intermission on a halfcourt shot at the buzzer by Wise.

Lubin, who also had seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks, dropped two free throws to open the third and make it 36-25. The Dragons still refused to yield the game, going on a 13-4 run, capped by a Coleman three-point play to slice the deficit to 41-38 with two minutes left in the quarter.

Once again, Gadsden City answered the call. It closed the third on an 8-0 run, with Lubin scoring with 9 seconds left, to extend the lead to 49-38 heading into the fourth.

Wenonah was unable to mount another run, getting to within six, at 60-54 and 62-56, but no closer. The Titans managed to make their free throws down the stretch to secure the triumph.

Garrett also had 14 rebounds, three assists and four blocks for Gadsden City. Wise had 11 points. Darrien Etheridge had six points and five steals while playing solid defense on Coleman, who finished the game with 24 points.

Wilson scored 10 points and Williams helped out with eight points for the Dragons.