E.A. Sports Today

Tucker clutch at line

Boys roundup: Sinks 2 FTs with 2.4 seconds left for Ohatchee’s win; Sacred Heart routs Appalachian

Ohatchee's Austin Tucker (24) considers doubling back for a loose ball; his two free throws with 2.4 seconds left won the game. On the cover, Wellborn's Corri Tignor (4) goes high for a potential rebound.

Ohatchee’s Austin Tucker (24) considers doubling back for a loose ball; his two free throws with 2.4 seconds left won the game. On the cover, Wellborn’s Corri Tignor (4) goes high for a potential rebound.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OHATCHEE — All those close games that were getting away from the Ohatchee boys basketball team earlier in the season might finally be starting to swing its way.

The Indians couldn’t buy a close game early in the season, but Monday, with the entire student body watching, they won a thriller over Wellborn 61-60.

Austin Tucker’s two free throws with 2.4 seconds left put the Indians on top and then they had to hold their breath as Blake Hanson’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was just a shade too long.

“We finally got a little luck go our way,” Indians coach Bryant Ginn said.

Even the slightest implication of luck would diminish Tucker’s resolve at the free throw line. He is one of the two best shooters on a team that hits at a 58-percent clip, so the Indians couldn’t have asked for a better player at the line in that situation – unless it was Micah Lee. Both make just about two out of every three.

“I was real nervous, but I was pretty confident I was going to make them,” Tucker said. “This is the first time I’ve ever been in a situation like it’s do-or-die. Last year I had a pull up for a 3 for a buzzer-beater and I missed it and that was heartbreaking. I would rather be on the line shooting free throws.”

Austin was 4-for-4 from the line in the fourth quarter and 7-for-9 for the game. The Indians were 13-of-19 as a team, 9-of-12 in the fourth quarter. His other two free throws in the quarter tied the game at 58 with 53.7 seconds to play.

“Tucker struggled at times early in the year in big moments with free throws, leaving them short,” Ginn said. “When you get nervous you have a tendency to leave everything short, but I’ve been watching his maturity over the last seven or eight ballgames and he wants the ball now.

“Before it was yeah I want the ball maybe until pressure gets there. Now, he wants it all the time. You need somebody like that. Micah’s the same way, and I feel good about both of them.”

Lee was 5-of-6 from the line in the fourth quarter and finished with a team-high 19 points. Tucker had 16 points and Bryan Jennings had 11.

Lee put the Indians ahead 59-58 with one of two free throws with 16.5 seconds left, but then Corri Tignor put Wellborn on top 60-59 with 8.8 seconds to go. Tignor scored 13 points in the second half and led all scorers with 21.

The Panthers still had one last chance to win it at the end after Austin’s two go-ahead free throws. They had a long way to go and a short time to get there, but Landon Machristie, the quarterback on Wellborn’s football team, made up the ground with a baseball pass to Hanson from the far baseline.

Hanson caught it cleanly over Lee, turned to his target and fired from just in front of the Wellborn bench. The shot looked as good as any of the five 3-pointers Hanson made in the game, but it wound up hitting the far side of the rim and falling away.

“I thought it was going in,” Wellborn coach Beau Winn said. “It looked like it was going in. He got a good look at it. We had two timeouts left. We had 2.4 seconds to go the whole length of the court. When he got it I looked and we had like point-seven. If we called a timeout we wouldn’t have gotten a much better look than that.

“It was just a little long. I asked him and he said he thought it was going in. I thought it was going in, too. I’ll probably sit at home tonight and draw it up different how I would’ve done it, probably taken it to them, but that’s just me second-guessing myself trying to help these kids win.”

The fact Wellborn was even in the game at the end was a testament to its grit. After a first half Winn suggested might have been their worst of the season, the Panthers clawed back from 14 points down in the first quarter to take their first lead with 40.6 seconds left in the third on a 3-pointer by Hanson.

As if the Panthers’ luck couldn’t have been gotten worse, they discovered their team bus stuck in the mud as they were getting ready to leave the gym.

Sacred Heart 80, Appalachian 21

The Cardinals made quick work of the Eagles, basically winning the game in the first quarter with a 26-6 start. They outscored the Eagles 35-2 in the third.

Four of Sacred Heart’s five starters scored in double figures, led by Kevion Nolan’s 26. Diante Wood had 17 points, D.J. Heath 14 and Kavarri Ross 13.

BOYS BOX SCORES

Ohatchee 61, Wellborn 60

WELLBORN – Kevin Mixon 1 0-0 2, Corri Tignor 8 5-8 21, Landon Machristie 1 0-0 3, Jordan Montgomery 2 1-4 6, Dante Miller 3 0-0 7, Blake Hanson 6 0-0 17, Alquinarious Parker 2 0-1 4. Totals 23 6-13 60.

OHATCHEE – Dylan Yates 1 0-0 2, Ben Glass 2 0-0 5, Micah Lee 7 5-6 19, Owen Hale 2 0-0 4, Austin Tucker 4 7-9 16, Bryan Jennings 5 1-4 11, Tristan Woodall 2 0-0 4, C.J. Ray 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 13-19 61.

Wellborn 11 14 20 15 — 60
Ohatchee 25 11 8 17 — 61

3-point goals: Wellborn 8 (Hanson 5, Miller, Montgomery, Machristie); Ohatchee 2 (Glass, Tucker). Total fouls: Wellborn 18, Ohatchee 14. Officials: Ortiz, Dowdle, Oliver.

Sacred Heart 80, Appalachian 21

APPALACHIAN — Andrew Whittington 0 0-0 0, Trey Calvert 1 1-2 3, Hutchins 0 0-2 0, Jose Rivera 1 0-2 2, Brian Hawkins 1 1-2 3, Roberto Hernandez 1 1-2 3, Jerald Pantoja 1 0-1 2, Skylar Roberts 0 2-2 2, Christopher Hernandez 1 0-0 2, Williams Noles 1 0-0 2, Tyler Cardwell 1 0-0 2. Totals 8 5-13 21.

SACRED HEART — Diante Wood 8 1-3 17, Kavarri Ross 6 0-0 13, D.J. Heath 6 2-4 14, Caleb Lafollette 0 0-2 0, Bradley Mayfield 0 0-2 0, Keith Orlowski 3 0-2 6, Kevion Nolan 12 0-0 26, Tucker Norman 1 0-0 3, Sam Miller 0 1-1 1. Totals 36 4-12 80.

Appalachian 6 9 2 4 — 21
Sacred Heart 26 15 35 4 — 80

3-point goals: Sacred Heart 4 (Norman, Nolan 2, Ross). Total fouls: Appalachian 10, Sacred Heart 14.



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