Wright gets 600th win as Devils capture Area 4 Tournament title

By Mark Clark

When he started his career as the head coach of the Central High Red Devils, Bobby Wright never expected to stay long enough to reach the point he reached last Saturday night at Auburn High. Wright, in his 28th year as the Red Devils’ leader, won his 600th victory as his team captured the Area 4 Tournament title. Central defeated Auburn 57-43.

“God is good. I have been blessed,” Wright said after the game as he contemplated what the victory meant. “I could not have had this come at a better time – to win the area tournament and get my 600th victory on the same night. But, it took a lot more than me to get here. It took a lot of great players and coaches helping me along the way.

“When I first came to Central, I did not think I would be here this long. Working with Wayne Trawick as an assistant football coach was such a joy that I never wanted to leave. There have been a lot of other coaches I have worked with that have made this job a joy and not like work. I could not have found a better place to be than right here. Central has been very good to me.”

Wright’s overall record entering today’s Central Regional Tournament at Alabama State University stands at 600-190, an average record of 21-7. The Red Devils are 22-3 so far this season.

The Red Devils were not supposed to be a contender for the area title this year, but fought to force a three-way tie for the regular season crown with Auburn and Smiths Station. Auburn won the top seed for the area tournament and a spot in the Central Regional with a coin flip. Central and Smiths Station played in the first round of the area tournament to see which would get the other spot in the regional tournament and a chance to play Auburn for the area tournament title. Central beat Smiths Station 72-60 to eliminate the Panthers from the tournament and gained the opportunity to play Auburn.

With the victory over Auburn, Central will now play Jeff Davis High in the first round of the Central Regional Tournament at the Acadome on the campus of Alabama State University today at 11:30 a.m. EST. The winner will advance to the title game next Tuesday at 11:45 a.m. EST.

On Saturday, Central ran its way to the tournament title against a bigger Auburn team. The Red Devils held a three-point edge over the Tigers for most of the first quarter as Auburn tried to control the game’s tempo and run a half-court game. Auburn scored the final two baskets of the quarter and led 11-9 heading into the second quarter.

Central’s Demarkus Lampley tossed in a three-pointer to start the second quarter to give his team a one-point lead. The lead stayed at a single point until the last two minutes when the Red Devils stretched it to six. Central went into halftime with a 28-22 lead.

Auburn cut the Central lead to four points with the first basket of the third quarter, but Lampley hit another three-point shot to put Central up by seven at 31-24. Central outscored Auburn 7-1 in the final minute to take a 40-31 lead into the last quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Central maintained a seven-point lead for the first four minutes and then eased away from the Tigers over the final four. Central’s speed and quickness drained the Auburn defense to allow the Red Devils to go ahead by as many as 15 points in the final quarter.

“With all the distractions we’ve had this year and being such a young team, we still got this (the area tournament title). The kids have worked hard to improve all year. They did not listen to people who said they couldn’t get here,” Wright said of his players.

Donald Jackson led Central’s scorers against Auburn with 15 points. Lampley had 14 points for Central. Jackson, Lampley and Justyn Ross were selected to the Area 4 all-tournament team. Lampley was named the Most Valuable Player.

Against Smiths Station, Trayveon Barnes scored 18 points led the Central scorers. Lampley and Ross both had 17 points while DeAnthony Miles scored 11 points for the Red Devils.