Struggles continue for Titans

The Titans' J.C. Olivo goes to the basket during Tuesday's loss to Alexander Central. Olivo scored a game-high 18 points. McDowell hosts South Caldwell Friday. Josh Davis/blueridgesportsphotography.com

To paraphrase the late, great “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, the McDowell Titans are going through hard times right now.

And like the wrestling legend, the Titans are fighting with everything they’ve got to try and right the ship.

McDowell left it all on the court against the Alexander Central Cougars Tuesday, but came up on the short end of a 68-59 score. It was the fifth consecutive loss for the Titans (3-8 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference, 9-12 overall), their longest such streak since the 2008-09 season.

The tireless Titans pressed the Cougars (8-3, 15-6) end-to-end all night, and used their physically demanding 1-3-1 trap in the half-court setting the entire second half.

Defensively, McDowell did enough to win. But the Titans couldn’t overcome poor shooting – 40 percent from the floor and a meager 26 percent from 3-point range – against Central’s zone.

“I thought our kids played hard against a good team,” said Titans head coach Brian Franklin. “I thought especially in the first quarter we came out and were focused on what we wanted to do. We were able to turn them over with some pressure, and when we didn’t, we got them out of their comfort zone.

“But I think what happened was, over the course of time, we started settling for too many perimeter shots, and they weren’t falling tonight. We didn’t shoot it particularly well from the perimeter. And we had 18 turnovers against a zone. They get after you, but that’s too many.”

Point guard J.C. Olivo led the Titans with 18 points, 14 of them coming in the second half. Trent Lewis (7 rebounds) and Qualique Garner (3 assists) tossed in 13 apiece. Dylan McRary (5 assists) struggled through an uncharacteristically poor shooting night (0-of-8 3-pointers) and finished with 11.

Forward Jem Lowrance led the Cougars with 16 points and 12 boards. Freshman guard Evan Presnell scored 13 and bruising post Lyndon Strickland added 12 points.

The Titans led by as many as 10 at 16-6 in the opening quarter, but Alexander Central fought back and took a 28-26 halftime lead.

McDowell surged ahead for the last time when McRary’s conventional three-point play gave the Titans a 31-30 lead with 6:40 left in the third quarter.

But Alexander, sparked by a pair of 3-pointers from Presnell, went on a 10-0 run and never looked back. Jamison Benfield’s layup at the 4:30 mark capped the run and gave the Cougars a 40-31 advantage.

It was 51-42 after three and the Titans got as close as seven only one more time, at 66-59 on Olivo’s 3 off a Garner assist with 55 seconds to play.

“I thought J.C. played one of the better games he’s had all year,” said Franklin. “He was in it from the start and he was one of the few who made some perimeter shots.”

McDowell hosts South Caldwell Friday.

 

Alexander Central (68) Jem Lowrance 6-16 4-4 16, Lyndon Strickland 6-7 0-0 12, Zach Wooten 1-2 2-2 5, Dalton Stikeleather 2-6 0-0 5, Evan Presnell 4-9 1-2 13, Jamison Benfield 2-4 0-1 4, Dawson Elder 1-3 0-0 2, Lucas Walker 1-4 3-4 5, Maddox Kerley 3-6 0-1 3. Totals: 26-57 10-14 68.

McDowell (59) Qualique Garner 5-13 0-0 13, Adam Randolph 1-1 0-0 2, Trent Lewis 5-12 3-3 13, Dylan McRary 2-10 7-7 11, J.C. Olivo 6-11 3-3 18, Dequan Boyce 1-3 0-0 2, Trenton Gragg 0-0 0-0 0, Andruw Randolph 0-0 0-0 0, Richard Handy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-50 13-13 59.

             Central          08   20   23   17 – 68

  1. McDowell          16   10   16   17 – 59

    Rebounds: AC (34) MHS (31) Rebound leaders: AC (Lowrance 12) MHS (Lewis 7) 3-point goals: AC (6-21) MHS (6-23) AC (Lowrance 0-4, Wooten 1-2, Stikeleather 1-1, Presnell 4-9, Benfield 0-2, Walker 0-3) MHS (Olivo, Garner 3-7, McRary 0-8, Boyce 0-1) MHS assists leaders: (McRary 5) MHS steals leaders: (Ad. Randolph 5) MHS blocked shot leaders: (Lewis 1) Turnovers: AC (15) MHS (18)

 

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