James “Pistol” Payne has swagger on the sideline.
He also had something to say after Saturday’s game against PikeView.
“I had thought about retiring at the end of the season,” Payne said as he raised his finger to his mouth and smiled. “But I’m comin’ back next year.”
Perhaps it’s victories like Saturday’s 81-62 victory that changed his mind.
“Overall, I’m pleased with how we played,” Payne said. “We hadn’t beat them in a really long time. We’d lost 8 or 9 in a row to them.”
His Bobcats only trailed once the entire game, when the Panthers jumped out to a 6-2 lead. It was the hot shooting and quickness of his team that brought them back and sailing to a victory.
“I thought our team played really, really great,” he said.
Perhaps a reason Payne will return is the relationship he has with his players.
“I love my players. They don’t always love me, but I love my players,” Payne said.
“I love you, coach,” junior TaRon Ayers interrupted.
Payne just smiled.
“I love my players.”
Payne may love his players, but make no mistake about it, it’s a tough love. During a timeout late in the third quarter, Payne addressed his players in an aggressive manner at one point and a few seconds later was smiling and laughing with them.
“I get very upset sometimes. I can be profane — I try not to be in public; maybe in the locker room,” Payne said with a grin. “But there’s not a boy out there who will tell ya, I say what I gotta say and 30 seconds later I’m onto something else or someone else. It doesn’t last very long for me. I love my players.”
The victory snapped a two-game skid for Summers County, which lost back-to-back games to ranked Class AA teams Wyoming East and Nicholas County. The Bobcats were led in the victory by Ayers, the junior phenom.
“I thought ... we played hard after a tough loss to Wyoming East and Nicholas County,” Ayers said. “We wanted to come out here and play hard and make a statement from here on and throughout the season. I thought everyone played good. Everyone played good defense. The big men played good. We had a good practice yesterday. That helped a lot.”
The back-to-back losses played on Payne’s schemes for PikeView.
“We tried to do things a little bit different,” he said. “We wanted to to keep our kids fresh, and rest our kids more. We want to try to get everyone at least a minute a quarter to catch their breath, drink some water, wipe their hands and get back out there.”
Payne’s fast-tempo, full-court, fast-break offensive schemes helped the Bobcats secure the victory over a much bigger PikeView team.
“PikeView is a good team,” Payne said. “They’ve got a couple losses but they’ve played some really good teams ... and boy are they big. They are really big. They had a size advantage over us, but we had a huge quickness advantage over them.”
A quickness advantage Payne hopes will help them Tuesday night when they travel to Coal City to take on Indepenence.
“That’ll be a tough game for us. Their size will bother us,” Payne said. “(Independence senior Shane) Greco is big, and he blocks a lot of shots. He doesn’t take fakes and he runs the floor well. He’s going to be there on both sides. We just hope to get there faster.”
Tip-off will be 7:30 p.m. PikeView will travel to James Monroe on the same night.
— E-mail: jrollins@
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Summers County 81, PikeView 62
Austin Hazelwood 0 0-0 0, Dakota Bailey 0 0-0 0, Seth Wood 0 0-0 0, Bradley Finchup 1 1-2 1, Austin Cordell 1 0-0 2, Jason Weitzel 4 1-6 11, Tanner Farley 3 1-1 7, Zachary Meadows 9 5-10 25 Logan McKinney 7 2-6 16. Totals: 24 10-26 62.
Summers County (6-4)
Isaiah Brown 4 4-7 12, Matt Ryan 2 0-1 4, Jacob Lively 0 0-0 0, TaRon Ayers 10 7-10 30, Josh Graham 9 1-3 19, T. J. Smith 4 1-2 9, Jacob Carr 2 1-2 5, John Gilbert 1 0-0 2. Totals: 31 14-25 81.
PV 11 09 26 27 — 62
SC 16 20 12 38 — 81
3-point goals — PV: 4 (Meadows 2, Weitzel 2); SC: 3 (Ayers 3). Fouled out — None.