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Caleb Turrentine / The Herald Wetumpka’s Stone Minnifield (20) attempts to outrun Tallassee’s Barry Purter on a fast break.

After leading by as many as six points in the first half, the Tallassee boys basketball team saw its lead evaporate with just over a minute to go in the second quarter of Thursday’s game against Brew Tech. The Tigers were looking for a spark before the break and they got it from an unlikely source.

Barry Purter played less than three minutes against the Rams but his impact was clear. In the final minute of the first half, Purter scored 4 points to break at tie before halftime which put all the momentum in the home team’s favor.

“That was just a blessing,” Purter said. “I didn’t think I was going to play tonight but when coach put me in, I knew I had to come through for my team.”

In his final action, Purter beat two Brew Tech player’s to a rare air ball from Jamicah Humphrey. Purter grabbed the ball and banked it in from the right side just before the first-half buzzer.

“That was huge,” Tallassee coach Keiven Mixson said. “You don’t think two points is a big deal but that gave us the momentum. I thought about that with about a minute to go in the half when they were making a little run. We needed to finish on top and he gave that to us. Those were just effort plays.”

Tallassee turned to Humphrey and Tyrek Turner in the second half, as the two players scored the first 12 points of the third quarter. The Tigers pushed the run all the way to 18 points to take control before finishing off the 63-47 victory.

 “We knew coming into the game that Brew Tech was going to be a challenge,” Purter said. “We had to play hard. We didn’t want to let them come in here and disrespect us. This was a big win for us.”

Purter did not return to the court in the second half but the bench continued to keep the energy level high as Tallassee (17-3, 2-0 Class 5A Area 4) pushed its lead to as high as 19 points.

“We have had to talk about that before because at times, our bench has not had energy,” Mixson said. “We talk about being a good team player and accepting your role and Barry does that. Our bench was huge tonight.”

The bench finished with only six points but that did not stop it from making an impact. And while they were not in the game, the bench players still enjoyed the show put on by the starting lineup.

Humphrey scored 11 points in the first four minutes of the second half and finished with a game-high 23 points. Turner recorded another double-double, scoring 14 of his 21 points in the second half to go with 10 rebounds.

“The energy (on the bench) is great,” Purter said. “If we don’t have the energy over there, they aren’t going to score for us. We have to keep that same energy every game.”

Purter has not seen much playing time but Mixson said his role is clear and games against opponents like Brew Tech are built for players like Purter.

Tallassee needed a handful of players to slow down Brew Tech’s Evan Carter, who averaged 25.3 points in three games against the Tigers last season. Purter, along with Tae Collins and Sandarius Hughley, saw a bulk of the minutes guarding Carter and limited him to just eight points.

“That was our plan,” Mixson said. “We wanted to put different guys on him and keep rotating guys in and out to keep someone fresh on him. I thought all of our guys did a good job.”

The Tigers currently sit on top of the area standings but they played their first three area games at home. They will hit the road for the final three and Mixson knows the return trip to Brew Tech is not going to be easy.

“Every game in this league is going to be a dog fight,” Mixson said. “I’m sure they’re going to be ready for us when we go down there.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.