“For us, being in an area game at our place, we had to win tonight,” Epps said.
Fortunately for Epps and crew, Carbon Hill got another big game from Gerald Smith en route to a narrow 63-62 victory over Dora.
Smith had 22 points and 13 rebounds and also knocked down a pair of free throws down the stretch that proved to be the difference in the game as Carbon Hill picked up the key area win.
“I think Gerald just dominated the game tonight,” Epps said of his junior swingman. “The big difference he made was under the goal. He wasn’t letting them get any shots around the bucket.”
Carbon Hill led by seven points at 51-44 going into the fourth quarter, but DeAngelo Pendleton kept Dora within striking distance with several short jumpers and driving layups.
Carbon Hill (9-3 overall, 3-0 in 4A, Area 8) took a three-point lead late after Smith’s free throws and a free throw from Ryan Simerly. Dora cut the gap to one-point with a basket, but the visiting Bulldogs got no closer.
“This was a big game for us. You’ve got some games that you’d like to win and you’ve got some games where you know you’ve got to win. This was one of those where you’ve got to win,” Epps added.
The game was close throughout.
Carbon Hill — which rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to beat Oakman on Thursday — led 21-19 after the opening quarter.
In the second quarter, Carbon Hill led by as many as 11 points after Simerly made a shot and John Bray followed with consecutive baskets for a 32-21 lead. Dora followed with a 10-0 run that ended on a Devonta Gosha 3-pointer at the 2:47 mark. Carbon Hill led 36-33 at the half. For Carbon Hill, Chandler Gann had 11 points, Simerly, Garrett Kirkland and Isaac Slaton each put in eight and Bray had four.
Pendleton had 20 points for Dora (5-2, 1-1) while Deionte Smith put in 10, Gosha had nine, Caleb May added eight, Keleil James had seven, Kenton Petties had four and both John Serricchio and Logan Roberts had two.
Carbon Hill takes part in the Homewood New Year’s Tournament beginning Dec. 28. The Bulldogs face the host team at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Along with Homewood; Pelham, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa, Center Point, Bessemer City and Vestavia Hills are also in the tournament.
Carbon Hill 71, Dora 42
Carbon Hill put 40 points on the scoreboard in the second half on the way to beating Dora 71-42 in the girls game Friday night.
The host Bulldogs held a slim five-point lead at the half before turning up the pressure on Dora in the second half. Carbon Hill’s Caroline Dodd, Savanna Lawson and Lindsay Fluker combined for 53 points as the Bulldogs pushed their winning streak to 10 games.
“We really played well in the second half,” Carbon Hill coach Wade Tittle said. “Dora is a scrappy bunch and we had a hard time making shots in the first half. In the third quarter, they started to fall for us. When we really start to figure it out defensively, we can be pretty good and tonight in the second half we did a great job on both ends.”
The game was tied at 12-12 after the opening quarter. Carbon Hill (10-3, 3-0) led 31-26 at the half. The host team took a commanding 53-34 going into the fourth quarter.
Dodd had a monster game for Carbon Hill with 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, Lawson had 16 points and Fluker had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Mallorie Buzbee and Meagan Bice had six points, Abby Tittle added four points and Jessica Hurst had two.
Carbon Hill takes on Lynn Thursday in the Winfield Christmas Tournament.