E.A. Sports Today

Cardinals come alive

Sacred Heart recovers from slow start to pull away from upset-minded Donoho

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Sacred Heart coach Ralph Graves couldn’t say he was panicked when his team was still locked in a close game with a team it had been crushing all year long in the second quarter, but there was a little concern.

The strips of tape on the back of the dressing room door chronicle the Cardinals beating Donoho in their previous three games by an average of 40 points and here were the Falcons leading by two with 6:43 left in the first half. It was an upset in the making that would have sent shock waves throughout the Class 1A state tournament bracket had it came to fruition.

The threat didn’t last much longer. The Cardinals quickly moved to a full-court trap, the defense started clicking and they soon were on their way to an 82-48 victory in the Area 12 tournament. They will play Ragland for the area title Saturday at 7 p.m. That winner hosts the loser of tonight’s Wadley-Talladega County Central Area 8 final in the subregionals; the loser goes on the road to face that game’s winner.

“I wasn’t worried, I just knew that we had to get in the flow and execute our game plan,” sophomore guard Kevion Nolan said. “We kind of didn’t jump on them like we normally do. (Graves) told us not to come out and play down to the competition and … I think that’s what we did today. But we’ll be sure not to do it again because we don’t want the same thing to happen.”

The Falcons (9-13) were able to stay in the game early because they were successful working Justin Foster down low — against all of Graves’ best instruction to the players on the floor — and Sacred Heart was cold from the floor.

The Cardinals (22-8) were only 6 for 23 from the floor at the time Donoho had its 22-20 lead after another Foster basket. Foster, who signed a football scholarship with Samford on Wednesday, had 15 of the Falcons’ first 22 points, scored all 12 of their points in the second quarter and finished his final high school basketball game with 30 points.

“We did a good job early in the game getting the ball inside and then they made some adjustments … that made it difficult for us to get it inside to Justin,” Donoho coach Shannon Felder said. “We needed to counter and do a better job of protecting the basketball and we didn’t do that and they took advantage of it.

“I knew if we continued to get the ball inside and continued to protect the basketball we’d give ourselves a chance to stay in the game. But at the same time I told our guys I know they were going to make a run, we’ve just got to be able to sustain the run and they made a run and we weren’t able to sustain it.”

When the Cardinals turned up the defensive intensity, they turned over the Falcons five of the next six possessions. They scored off four of them fueling a 13-0 run that restore control to their hand and sent them to their 13th straight victory.

D.J. Heath was particular active in the run. He had three steals in it and scored six points. He finished with 25 points, as did Nolan. Sam Miller had 15 and Kavarri Ross had 11.

“I wasn’t worried; I knew that we would eventually come out and play, but we have to stop doing that,” Heath said. “We have to stop playing sluggish. We have to come out right away and have a killer instinct. The killer instinct didn’t kick in until halftime. That’s something we have to work on.”

Ragland 63, Faith Christian 59

The Lions may have lost by a slim margin, but coach Bradley Dawson thought they were in catch up mode all game.

Jordan Griswald scored 11 of his 19 points in the second as the Lions roared from three down to lead by one at the break. But it just didn’t feel that way. Dawson burned a time out 30 seconds into the game and there was a bad vibe the rest of the game.

“We went into the half with the lead, but I felt like we were getting beat 10 or 15; we weren’t doing what we were coached to do,” Dawson said. “We didn’t come out flat, we just didn’t come out productive.”

The momentum turned in the third quarter when the Lions were outscored 11-5. Josiah McDaniel added 12 points for the Lions and Logan Williamson had 10. Ragland’s Jagger Phillips led all scorers with 24 points.

“They deserved to win the game,” Dawson said. “They guarded us. They played hard. They played for each other. We just didn’t do what you have to do to win a game like that.”

After the game, Dawson presented a check for more than $600 to Ragland girls’ player Kerston Looney to help her family get back on their feet after losing their home in a fire Tuesday – the day before the Purple Devils played Faith in the girls area tournament.

“I felt like it was something we needed to do,” Dawson said. “I was proud of our community for stepping up like that.”


Sacred Heart 82, Donoho 48

DONOHO (9-13) – Dylan Dunaway 0 0-0 0, Bret Holmes 0 0-0 0, Garrett Steed 1 1-2 4, Russ Svenson 2 0-0 6, Schuyler Buckner 1 2-2 4, Tucker Sedmak 0 0-0 0, Ross Hagan 1 0-0 2, Robert Clausen 0 0-0 0, Parker Morgan 1 0-0 2. Mateen Ibrahim 0 0-0 0, Justin Foster 11 7-14 30, Wilson Russell 0 0-0 0. Total 17 10-18 48.

SACRED HEART (22-8) – Diante Wood 1 1-1 3, Kavarri Ross 3 4-4 11, Darrin Wood 0 0-0 0, D.J. Heath 11 1-5 25, Caleb Lafollette 0 0-0 0, Bradley Mayfield 1 0-0 3, Keith Orlowski 0 0-0 0, Kevion Nolan 8 6-6 25, Jackson Orlowski 0 0-0 0, Norman Tucker 0 0-0 0, Sam Miller 5 5-7 15. Totals 29 17-23 82.

Donoho 16 12 4 16 — 48
Sacred Heart 20 19 18 25 — 72

3-point goals: Donoho 4 (Steed, Svensen 2, Foster); Sacred Heart 7 (Ross, Heath 2, Mayfield, Nolan 3). Total fouls: Donoho 18, Sacred Heart 16. Fouled out: Steed, Morgan, Di. Wood. Officials: Batey, Calkins, Allen.

Ragland 63, Faith Christian 59

RAGLAND — Alex McClendon 4 3-6 11, Stoney Merritt 1 3-4 5, Jagger Phillips 7 8-12 24, Devin Turner 0 0-0 0, Donovan Turner 5 1-1 11, Braxton Thomas 3 2-5 12, Dustin Bunt 0 0-2 0. Totals 20 17-30 63.

FAITH CHRISTIAN — Ryan Crosby 2 2-2 7, Jordan Griswold 8 3-5 19, Logan Williamson 3 2-2 10, Caleb McCord 4 0-0 9, Jack Sills 0 0-0 0, Michael Kulich 0 0-0 0, Joshia McDaniel 4 4-6 12, Alex Taylor 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 11-15 59.

Ragland 18 14 11 20 — 63
Faith Christian 15 22 5 17 — 59

3-point goals: Ragland 4 (Phillips 2, Thomas 2). Faith 5 (McCord, Williamson 2, Crosby). Total fouls: Ragland 16, Faith 24. Fouled out: Williamson. Officials: Washington, Stringer, Kelley.

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