ESSEX -- It was the classic half time pep talk.
It got the Richland Rebels out of their sluggish cold spell in the first half and it put them on the right path towards a 90-79 victory over the North Pemiscot Mustangs on Tuesday night.
"We come out cold and sluggish in a lot of games and it really takes me chewing on them at half time to get them going sometimes," Richland head coach John Walker said. "I don't know why we come out slow. I told them they were killing me."
"He told us we need to rebound more and play harder on defense and keep up the intensity," Richland senior Mac Thornton said.
That is exactly what the Rebels did after falling 49-35 at half time.
More defensive pressure, a 20-11 rebounding advantage and a more active Rebels squad bolted out of the third quarter with a 18-3 run which gave them a 53-52 lead with 4:15 left to play. It would be their first lead since early in the second quarter.
"I just wish they would come out on fire like that from the get-go," said Walker.
The first quarter had both teams knotted up at 21 points a piece. Each team traded basket for basket as neither team's defense seemed to have any affect on what anyone wanted to do on offense.
Things continued that way for the Mustangs in the second quarter as they put up a hefty 28 points before halftime. Richland, however, went cold from the floor with 14-second quarter points and were getting beat on the glass mostly from North Pemiscot's Dominic Bryant who pulled down 15 rebounds.
Almost everyone on the floor for the Rebels got in on the boards in the second half. Drew Thornton led the squad with 13 while Michael Latham and Jesse Brown each grabbed seven.
"Jesse Brown and Michael Latham started getting some block-outs and then Drew started taking over the boards again," said Walker. "The rebounding was a big deal. We got out-rebounded in the first half."
Although the Rebels looked to be taking control, North Pemiscot kept things close with a 63-61 Richland lead after the third quarter.
The Mustangs fought back long enough in fact that they took a 73-72 lead with less than four minutes left in regulation. But, back-to-back conventional 3-point plays from Mac Thornton and Ryan Kleffer and then a four-point play by Drew Thornton who grabbed his own rebound off of his missed free throw for a putback gave Richland a lead they would never relinquish. That quick 10-point turnaround in favor of the Rebels separated them enough to assure Richland the win.
"Once we started hitting that back door cut and getting a few fouls we took over from there," Walker said. "Free throws were a big part of this game and we hit them well."
The Rebels had four players in double digits. Mac Thornton had a game-high 26 points for the Rebels while Latham added 20. Kleffer had 19 and Drew Thornton had 18.
"When you get that many in double digits we're hard to beat," Walker said. "
Lejuana Johnson led the Mustangs with 21 points who also had four players in double digits. Bryant added 18 while James Macklin and Brandon Holloman added 17 and 15 respectively.
Richland (8-2) will be back in action on Friday when they travel to Bell City to take on the Cubs.
NORTH PEMISCOT (79) -- Brandon Holloman 15, James Macklin 17, Lejuana Johnson 21, Dominic Bryant 18, Britton Wilson 6, Edwin Childress 2. FG 33 FT 5-8 F 14 (3-pointers: Holloman 3, Macklin 2, Johnson 3. Fouled out: Macklin.)
RICHLAND (90) -- Michael Latham 20, Jesse Brown 7, Drew Thornton 18, Ryan Kleffer 19, Mac Thornton 26. FG 38 FT 11-18 F 8. (3-pointers: M. Thornton, Latham, Brown. Fouled out: none.)