COLUMBIA — The Frederick Douglass High School boys basketball team pulled out a one-point win in its game against Russellville on Friday night.
Maybe it was the song “Who Let the Dogs Out” blasting from the speakers that motivated the Bulldogs to defend their home court, or maybe it was the cheers from the stands that excited the players. Regardless, Douglass beat Russellville 60-59 at Smithton Middle School.
Within the first minute of the game, Russellville put points on the board, and Douglass answered back with two more. The pace of the game was quick back and forth, and both teams proved to be strong under the basket. While some cross-court passes on the Bulldogs' end caused several turnovers, they were quick to fight for the rebounds.
“We know our plays, and we work well as a team,” junior Colby Jenkins said.
Being the only sport at Douglass, emotions ride high during basketball games.
“We only offer boys basketball,” said Susan Wier, a biology, health and PE teacher at Douglass. “We have a pretty good team most years, and they’re all good kids. It’s special because we only have one team. They enjoy playing and playing with each other.”
Wier has been teaching at Douglass for 18 years and relishes in the fact that students from her first year of teaching still come back to visit and go to the basketball games.
“It’s hard to describe, but you don’t want to leave them,” Wier said. “It really is like a family.”
Several teachers, the principal and a retired adviser cheered on the boys from the sideline and could be heard yelling, “Hands up!”
The family feeling isn’t just found in the stands among alumni and staff, but it is exhibited on the court as well.
“It was a good total team effort,” coach Lynn Allen said. “Lorenzo [Estes] and Tanner [Cassil] really worked the shooting, Darrius [Edwards] had 11 rebounds, Justin [Myers] hit a three pointer, Colby [Jenkins] got the rebounds. It was well played high school ball.”
The score was tied at 45 in the beginning of the third quarter. After some overthrown passes, a Russellville free throw and a fast break, the Bulldogs were down 49-51 at the end of the quarter.
It all came down to the final minute of the game. Edwards broke the tie at 53 with a layup for the Bulldogs, but Russellville responded. Myers hit the game-winning shot with 12 seconds left on the clock, a 3-pointer that put the Bulldogs up. The clutch shot was Myers’ first 3-pointer of the game and led the Bulldogs to victory.
“Our game was fast paced, we stole the ball and shot 3s, and we were good at penetrating with the ball,” senior Denis Harris said.
“Lorenzo and Darrius got into foul trouble early in the game, but the team recovered," Allen said. "It was a great win. We play tough competition, and it’s a big advantage to play at home. We feel comfortable out here. This was a win our kids needed. We were down by six at the half, but it felt like we were down by 15. This win really brought up their spirits.”
Douglass will take on African Centered Education on Tuesday in Kansas City and will play Mexico, Mo., on Friday.