Tyler Nixon sat just inside half court, dribbling the ball and eyeing the Parkside defense as the third quarter reached its final seconds.
Parkside head coach Dave Byer started scribbling onto a white board, preparing for the usual timeout and last-shot play.
Instead, Nixon lobbed it to a streaking Leander Roberts, who tapped it home for two of his six points, capping off a 17-6 run during the final 5:35 of the third quarter for the Warriors, who were looking to blemish the Rams’ perfect Bayside record.
After each team exchanged a final bucket in the third, Pocomoke led Parkside 61-48.
The Warriors rattled off six straight points to start the final frame en route to the upset 83-69 win Tuesday in Pocomoke City.
“H-D-W,” Warriors head coach Derrick Fooks said. “That’s what we play with. That’s heart, desire and will. I got one, maybe two guys six-foot (tall) at that, and we just play hard. Every night on the floor, I ask them to play hard, and that’s what they did tonight.”
Pocomoke’s Dajour Mills goes up for a shot over Parkside’s Colen Gaynor.
Pocomoke (9-2, 7-1 Bayside South) had just beaten Washington last Thursday and continued the streak to hand the Rams (10-1, 6-1) their first conference loss.
The Warriors pressured the Rams to their breaking point, causing multiple turnovers that led to easy layups, mostly for Dajour Mills, the Warriors senior guard who led all scorers with 32 points.
Mills was not available after the game, but Fooks said he has become a leader and the captain of this team during the past five games.
Nixon dropped all of his 20 points in the second half, driving to the lane over and over again, which meshed with Mills’ drives and occasional 3-pointer. Mills had 17 in the third and fourth quarters.
Byer said the Rams just couldn’t match how fast the Warriors wanted to play, and it forced them into turnovers.
“Actually that wasn’t the game plan, to speed Parkside up, because we thought that’s what Parkside wants to do, get out and run,” Fooks said. “We had to have controlled runs. We got back on defense really well. Whenever they tried to get in transition, we had at least two or three guys back so it didn’t give them anything easy to the basket.”
When the Warriors played even too fast for themselves, the Rams got back in the game. Pocomoke had taken a 15-4 lead early in the first quarter until the Rams stormed back as the game ramped up to warp speed.
Juwan Williams knocked down some 3’s for the Rams, who clawed their way back to take a halftime lead.
The Rams had pressed the Warriors and the game turned into a full out track meet, which worked for Parkside in short spurts.
When they weren’t pressing, Parkside fell into a 2-3 zone, but LiCurtis Whitney would get the rebound or Raymir Smith would drop a 3-pointer — all complimenting the fast-break layups by Nixon and Mills.
“I think they definitely out-hustled us,” Byer said. “It’s very hard to press the entire game. So we got to pick our spots when to press. I thought we did a good job in the first half, playing zone, and then we went to a press and were up four or five at half. “
But slowly the Rams’ 33-26 halftime lead diminished even though it went into double-digits early on to start the third.
Smith hit a 3-pointer from way out to tie the game at 44, and then Mills had back-to-back fast-break layups to spark the big run for the Warriors that led them to the win.
Fooks said Smith was the Warriors’ leading scorer until he hit a cold streak, but his 13 points were very important Tuesday.
Now for Pocomoke, nothing changes, according to Fooks.
“One game at a time,” he said. “We play Snow Hill on Thursday, and its one game at a time. Records don’t count for anything because everybody goes to the playoffs. All were doing now is trying to play every night and give 110 percent. But like I said, H-D-W, heart, desire and will — that’s what we play with.”
But for the Rams, it was the second time in a row they went down big in a game. They scrambled from down 20 against Wicomico last week for the 81-75 win, but couldn’t against the feisty Pocomoke defense.
Gaynor had a turnover-filled evening and netted only nine points. Byer said he is still adjusting to the point guard position and will benefit — like the rest of the team — from this experience against the quick Pocomoke guards.
Williams, who led the team with 19 points, said the Warriors had more energy and it was unacceptable.
The Rams played as a team to come back against the Indians, but that didn’t happen Tuesday.
Asked what Parkside needs to do, Williams responded, “practice.”
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