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Lamar Walker, a 7-foot freshman center from Highland Park, Mich., and Will Ransom (44), a 6-8 freshman forward from Fort Worth, contest a shot by a Pratt College player Saturday during a 56-44 win by Paris Junior College in the Dragons’ first scrimmage of the season. Also shown is Paris teammate Anthony Adams. (eParisExtra.com photo by Charles Richards)
By CHARLES RICHARDS
LEWISVILLE, Texas — After a month of conditioning drills and four days of workouts, the 2012-2013 edition of the Paris Junior College men’s basketball team scrimmage three other junior colleges Saturday in five hours.
More than 30 other junior colleges from several states joined the Dragons in day-long action over eight basketball courts in Lewisville and The Colony.
The Dragons will scrimmage three more teams next Saturday at Cedar Valley College in Lancaster.
“I like this team. I like the character of it,” PJC men’s coach Chuck Taylor said at the end of the day Saturday.
The Dragons defeated Pratt (Kan.) Junior College 56-44, tied Missouri State-West Plains 39-39, and lost to Redlands (Okla.) Junior College 39-34.
“You know, we’ve got a long way to go, but after another week of practice we’ll improve a lot. We’ll take a lot from these scrimmages and move forward, but I really like this team and the direction it’s headed,” Taylor said.
All three games were played with two halves – each 20 minutes with a running clock. Each team was responsible for providing someone to help run the clock, and no scorebook was kept.
Taylor went with an all-sophomore starting lineup in Game 1 – 5-9 guard Mike Harmon of Katy, 6-2 guard Anthony Adams of Pontiac, Mich.; 6-4 forward Eddie Leal of Dallas; 6-5 forward Morris “Mo” Mitchell of Fayetteville, Ga.; and 6-11 center Henry Buckley of Houston.
After five minutes, a new quintet went in – 6-2 sophomore guard Antonio Arnold of McKinney; 6-0 redshirt freshman Courtney Austin of Dallas; 6-6 freshman forward Delvin Dickerson of Houston; 6-8 freshman forward Will Ransom of Fort Worth; and 7-foot freshman center Lamar Walker of Highland Park, Mich.
Entering the action later were three other Dragons – Chris Jones, a 5-9 freshman guard from Arlington, Tenn.; Antione Ross, a 6-4 forward from Mount Pleasant; and Jemarea Samples, a 6-2 freshman guard from Pontiac, Mich.
Because of nagging injuries, four players on the Dragons’ 17-man roster saw no action – David Tucker, a 6-1 freshman guard from Dallas; Sheldon Yearwood, a 6-5 freshman from Dallas; Marcus Holt, a 6-11 sophomore from Aurora, Colo.; and Andrew Arredondo, a 6-3 redshirt freshman from Dallas.
“I got a chance to look at everybody, which I wanted to do. We’ll get back, make some decisions and move forward from here,” Taylor said.
Tucker and Yearwood played on the Class 5A state championship team at Dallas Kimball last spring. Austin played with them on another state championship team at Kimball the previous year.
Jones ended up the leading scorer for the day with 21 points – 10 against Pratt, 4 against Missouri-West Plains, and 7 against Redlands. Next with 18 points in the three scrimmages were Harmon (11, 7, 0) and Arnold (13, 0, 5). Adams had 17 points (7, 4, 6).
Mitchell (6, 4, 0) and Leal (0, 9, 1) added 10 points apiece. Samples had 7 points, all in the third game; Buckley had 4 points, all in the first game; Ransom had 4 points (2, 2, 0), Walker had 4 points (all in game 2), Ross had 3 points (all in game 1); and Buckley had 1 point, in the third game.
The Dragons started slowly in the 56-41 victory over Pratt, falling behind 31-11 before scoring 19 straight points to pull within one point at 31-30. Pratt scored the next five points for a 36-30 lead, but PJC went on an 18-0 run for a 48-36 lead that Pratt could not overcome. Harmon and Arnold made two 3-pointers each in the game.
Jones drove for several lay-ups, scoring three field goals and all four free throws he attempted.
In the second half of the Dragons’ second scrimmage, Walker threw in a sky hook from four feet out for what should have given PJC a 33-31 lead, but whoever was running the clock gave the points to Missouri State-West Plains instead. Despite howls from some PJC fans, the mistake wasn’t corrected, resulting in Missouri State holding the 33-31 lead instead – a four-point swing.
Late in the game, with the scoreboard showing the other team ahead 38-35 (instead of PJC leading 37-36), the Dragons fouled twice, and Missouri-West Plains made three of four free throws for a 41-37 “win.” But actually, the true final score was 39-39 and the final-minute strategy would have been different.
Leal, who played at Collin County Community College in Plano last season, paced the Dragons in the second scrimmage with 9 points on two 3-pointers and 3-of-4 from the free throw line. Harmon and Dickerson each hit a 3-pointer.
In the third scrimmage, it was PJC that let a big early lead get away. Samples hit a 3-pointer and Arnold added a 3-pointer and a free throw for a 7-6 lead, and Jones added a basket and three straight free throws to make it 12-6. After Redlands hit a free throw, Dickerson hit a 3-pointer and two free throws to get the Dragons off to a 7-0 run that made it 19-7.
But PJC made a number of bad passes the rest of the way against an alert Redlands defense that kept picking them off and converting them into easy baskets on the other end. Redlands made five 3-pointers in a 19-6 run that resulted in a 26-25 lead midway through the second half. Soon it was a 30-26 Redlands advantage with eight minutes to play.
The Dragons allowed Redlands only one field goal after that, but the Oklahoma team went to the free throw line five times the rest of the way, making 2-of-2 twice and 1-of-2 three times, and PJC could never catch up, despite an inspiring finish by Adams, who hadn’t played until then.
Adams, looking much like the player who led the Dragons to several come-from-behind victories last season, quickly scored three baskets to get PJC closer. One basket was particularly sensational – he missed from six feet, but quickly ran to the basket, jumped about four feet off the court to out-rebound everybody else, and then put the ball back in for the score.
“You’ve got to remember,” Taylor said of Saturday’s play, “after four practices, we only have a man-to-man defense. We haven’t done any zone, we haven’t done any pressing and other things.”
He added: “If somebody had pressed us today, we wouldn’t have even been prepared for it because I haven’t even put in a press break. We’ll go hard ‘man’ principles for another week, and then we’ll start looking to get into that other stuff. We’ll get there.”
Two former PJC head men’s basketball coaches — Bill Foy (left) and Ross Hodge (right) join current PJC head coach Chuck Taylor for a photo between scrimmages at a day-long event Saturday in Lewisville. (eParisExtra.com photo by Charles Richards)