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Turnover-plagued PJC Dragons fall to Ranger College 82-79

“Guys, you can’t win like this!” PJC basketball coach Chuck Taylor tells his players during a time-out of Tuesday night’s PJC-Ranger game on the road. From left-center and progressing clockwise are assistant coach Maurice Heade (bending over), assistant coach Derek Taylor, Sheldon Yearwood (25), Antonio Arnold, Jemarea Samples, Will Ransom, Courtney Austin (31), Chris Jones, Marcus Holt, Delvin Dickerson (21), David Tucker, Henry Buckley, Mike Harmon (5), Anthony Adams (10) and Mo Mitchell (32). (eParis Extra photo by Charles Richards)

By CHARLES RICHARDS
eParisExtra.com

RANGER, Texas – Paris Junior College made a 225-mile trip to Ranger on Tuesday, hoping to build on an 89-65 victory Saturday over Murray State that was perhaps the best showing by a Dragons basketball team in several seasons.

Evidently, Ranger College hadn’t seen the Dragons’ press clippings and didn’t realize how good Coach Chuck Taylor’s team was supposed to be. The Rangers, cheered by a rowdy home crowd, jumped off to a 13-0 lead and repelled every PJC threat for an 82-79 victory.

Trelle Lewis, a 6-foot freshman guard, led Ranger with 21 points. Rafael Farley, a sophomore guard, added 13 points – 9 of them on three 3-pointers.

Eddie Leal led Paris with 25 points. Mike Harmon added 13 points, Mo Mitchell 10 points, and Anthony Adams 9 points.

Ranger College stole three Paris passes in the first minute and a half and all turned into easy fast-break baskets for the Rangers. The Dragons committed six more turnovers in the next two minutes and Ranger’s lead grew.

The Dragons went on a 10-2 run to get back into the game and pulled into a 22-22 tie with 7:18 left in the first half. But PJC never was able to grab a lead. Ranger made two free throws in the final seconds of the first half for a 36-33 lead at the intermission.

The second half was full of frustration for PJC – repeatedly falling behind by six or eight points, then getting to within one or two before Ranger would pull away again.

Taylor was unhappy about his team’s performance, which dropped the Dragons to 1-1 on the young season. Ranger improved to 2-2 – having opened its season last weekend with a 79-76 victory over Odessa, a 75-71 loss to Western Texas, and a 97-80 loss to defending national champion South Plains College.

“If you’ve got the best point guard (Adams) in the country and he isn’t ready to play, you’re not going to win,” Taylor said, looking over the box score minutes after the final buzzer.

For the game, PJC had 25 turnovers, including seven by Leal, four each by Harmon and Chris Jones, and three by Adams.

Meanwhile, Ranger committed only 9 turnovers. The Rangers also knocked down eight 3-pointers — two by Lewis and three by sophomore guard Rafael Farley — and shot 55 percent (27-of-49) from the field and 77 percent (20-of-26) from the free throw line. A good opponent playing well was just too much for a good Paris team that didn’t bring its A game.

“Ant was not ready to play, and Harmon was not ready to play, and you can quote me on that. Mo played 35 minutes and had one rebound. We can’t win like that,” Taylor added.

“I knew this was going to be a very tough game to win. Every time we had an opportunity to get even, we stubbed our toe. Based on how we practiced yesterday, I’m not surprised. We had a terrible practice. I probably made a mistake scheduling us to play Ranger today. You need more than one day to get ready for a team that good,” he said.

“Hopefully, our guys learned something. Guess what? It doesn’t get easier,” Taylor said, referring to a trip Friday to Ottumwa, Iowa, to play in a tournament at Indian Hills Community College, which is ranked No. 5 in the National Junior College Athletic Association pre-season poll.

Ranger College had one of the loudest, “into it” crowds that PJC has played before in recent years.
Dragons’ Eddie Leal dribbles toward the basket against Ranger. Also shown are Lamar Walker (24), Mo Mitchell (32), Mike Harmon (5), and PJC coach Chuck Taylor looking on from the bench. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)
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