E.A. Sports Today

Alexandria boys fall in OT

Down early, up late, the Valley Cubs can’t hang on

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — When it was down by 11 late in the first quarter there was way too much time left to panic. When it was up 10 with five minutes to go in regulation it was way too early to celebrate.

There just was never any time for Alexandria to be comfortable in its Class 5A Northeast Regional game with Butler Monday.

In the end, it all got away and the Valley Cubs’ season came to an end in a 73-68 overtime loss at Pete Mathews Coliseum.

“We just kind of lost our focus, just for a couple minutes there,” Cubs coach Jason Johnson said. “They pressed us and we had too many turnovers in a row.

“We hadn’t faced a team with that kind of length and it’s kind of hard to simulate their kind of athleticism in practice because we just don’t have those kinds of athletes. They made the plays towards the end.”

The Valley Cubs were slow to get started and fell behind 15-4 out of the gate. But they rallied with a strong second quarter and used an equally impressive start to the fourth to lead 54-44 — their largest lead of the game — with 5:25 to play.

At that point Butler (10-18) tightened the press and rallied. The Rebels had a chance to win it in regulation and worked the final 1:09 for a final shot, but Terrion Hobson got too far underneath the basket for it to have a chance.

“Those guys on the other side, they were wanting to win, too,” Johnson said. “They played with a lot of urgency there toward the end.

“We thought about spreading it out and taking some time off, but there was still a lot of time left and we were having a lot of success in our offensive sets so we didn’t want to take off the momentum. They pressed and we turned the ball over there at some crucial times. That’s the way it goes.”

The Cubs had a five-point lead with 3:28 left in regulation, then made three consecutive turnovers that Butler coverted into points to take the lead with 2:10 to play. Tyrelle Gay hit the second of two free throws to tie it at 56 and the teams traded baskets on the next two possessions to set the final exchange in motion.

“We had too many turnovers,” Gay said. “That was the only thing that really messed us up. If we took care of the ball we would’ve won the game.”

The Valley Cubs looked at Butler’s record coming into the regional, but didn’t take the Rebels lightly. Second-year Butler coach Marcus McCall listed his team at the bottom of the 16 teams in the four regionals statewide, but he knew the Rebels would play with heart.

They did that in the final five minutes of regulation in overtime. They were 3-for-3 from the floor in overtime, 9-for-15 from the line. The Valley Cubs, meanwhile, were only 2-of-6 from the floor and 6-of-9 from the line.

“Nothing in life comes easy,” McCall said. “We said we had to dig in and that’s what we did. At this point it’s not about a whole lot of Xs and Os; it’s about the heart, and it showed.

“In the past six or seven games my guys have displayed a tremendous amount of heart. It’s hard to stop a group of kids or a team or anything that’s playing with heart, that’s playing with confidence and totally believing in the things that we like to bring to the table. That’s what they did.”

Butler’s Dameion Jones led all scorers with 27 points.

Gay led Alexandria with 20. Dakota Kelley had 17 and Luke Tucker had 13.

Butler, which started its final season of existence 0-9, will play J.O. Johnson for the region title. J.O. Johnson is directed by former Butler coach Jack Doss. It’ll be their fourth meeting with the Jags.

“Up in that area Johnson is the team everybody kind of measures themselves to,” McCall said. “The first time they beat us we might not have been ready. The second time we came with a game plan … and we kind of fell apart right at the very end. The third time it was another dogfight … and we just didn’t have enough time. I hope we have set the stage for an exciting high-flying energy and action-packed ballgame.

“I don’t know at the beginning of the season if my team believed that they could win, but I think now they believe they can win. … We made it to the region championship game last year and we’re about to face the same team. We said we wanted to get back to this point. The journey was long and they persevered and we made it. Now we’re looking to try to take it one step further. We’re trying to make it down there to Birmingham.”

Butler 73, Alexandria 68 (OT)

BUTLER (10-18) – Terrion Hobson 6-11 3-4 18, Michael Roberson 4-8 6-10 14, Dameion Jones 8-18 11-18 27, Damion Jones 2-3 0-0 4, Jamel Cleveland 0-0 0-0 0, Daquan Settlers 1-2 0-0 2, Jarquise Cawthorne 0-0 0-0 0, Antonio Fletcher 3-6 0-0 6, Deonate Little 0-0 0-0 0, Cornelius Walton 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 25-52 20-32 73.

ALEXANDRIA – Nick Porter 2-5 2-2 6, Alton Davis 2-8 2-6 6, Tyrelle Gay 6-13 5-8 20, Luke Tucker 3-8 6-8 13, Dakota Kelley 5-11 6-7 17, Chance Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Austin Wells 0-0 0-0 0, Cole Nail 0-0 0-0 0, Riley Shaw 0-1 0-1 0, Jake Woodward 0-0 0-0 0, Caleb Young 1-1 0-0 2, Ronnie Royal 1-1 2-2 4, Demarcus Swink 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-48 23-34 68.

Butler 15 13 13 17 16 — 73
Alexandria 11 20 11 16 10 — 68

3-point goals: Butler 3-11 (Hobson 3-6, Dme. Jones 0-4, Settlers 0-1); Alexandria 5-11 (Gay 3-7, Tucker 1-1, Kelley 1-3). Rebounds: Butler 31 (Hobson 9); Alexandria 34 (Gay 9, Davis 6). Total fouls: Butler 26, Alexandria 22. Fouled out: Hobson, Davis. Officials: Cambron, Greenhill, Allen.

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