E.A. Sports Today

Piedmont takes it inside

Bulldogs beat Plainview with 38 points in the paint to reach regional final

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Piedmont, a team that thrives on the 3-pointer, found a different way to score Monday and the new approach carried it to a win in the Class 3A Northeast Regional.

The Bulldogs attacked the basket and did it looking to score rather than drawing a foul in beating Plainview 65-48. They now play Westbrook Christian Thursday at 3 p.m. for the region championship.

“The big thing is we were aggressive with the ball early; that was a key point,” Piedmont coach Tommy Lewis said. “They weren’t scared. They came out and took the ball to the goal and finished a lot of early shots. That set a tone that was real good for us.

“We like shooting the 3, but down here at Jacksonville a lot of times if you don’t hit the 3, you get stranded. So, I thought they did a very good job of attacking the goal.”

Bayley Blanchard got it started early with nine points in the first quarter, but the Bulldogs (21-11) did it all game. They outrebounded Plainview 35-20, with 11 coming on the offensive end. That helped them score 14 second-chance points, but more importantly score 38 points in the paint.

Lewis couldn’t remember the last time the Bulldogs scored inside in a game like that, but Plainview coach Robi Coker wasn’t surprised by it.

The Bulldogs prepared to be more aggressive at the basket through a drill in which Lewis would pop them with some padding every time they drove the lane. They had only one 3-pointer, and that came in the second half.

“You’re always pleasantly surprised when you see the way they went to the goal,” Lewis said. “We had several players who just seemed to understand the finish. We’ve had a little bit of trouble all year long finishing. We looked to the referees if we got fouled and things like that.

“I thought they did a good job tonight of trying to score instead of trying to draw a foul. I felt all year long they’d go to the goal trying to get fouled and that’s really not what you want to do if you’re going to win the ballgame. You want to score, and I thought they played that way today.”

Blanchard and Taylor Hayes led the Bulldogs with 16 points and seven rebounds each. Darnell Jackson had 14 points and six boards, while Austin Brazier had 13 points and seven boards.

“We just came ready,” Jackson said. “We knew we had a tough team coming into this, so the coaches got us ready. We knew we could run the floor on them.”

The Bulldogs seized control of the game with a strong second quarter. They led by two going into the quarter, then held the Bears to one field goal while opening a 28-18 halftime lead.

“Those guys did a great job of attacking us off the bounce,” Coker said. “We really let them hit us in the mouth without responding … and we really never got back in the game.”

Piedmont 65, Plainview 48

PLAINVIEW (20-11) – Chase Willingham 3-10 0-0 9, Clay Cooper 1-3 2-2 5, Cody Willingham 5-15 4-5 16, Isaiah Glover 1-1 0-0 2, Dylan Clark 0-3 0-0 0, Bailey Dukes 0-0 1-2 1, Jake Slay 0-2 0-0 0, Chance Broyles 0-0 0-0 0, Eddie Markowski 0-0 0-0 0, Jared Underwood 1-1 0-0 2, Luke Graham 1-1 0-0 3, Will Kirk 1-1 6-7 8, Cade Willingham 0-1 2-3 2, Dylan Scott 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 13-39 15-19 48.

PIEDMONT (21-11) – Darnell Jackson 5-9 4-4 13, Taylor Hayes 6-7 4-10 16, Tyler Lusk 0-2 0-0 0, Bayley Blanchard 7-13 2-3 16, Austin Brazier 3-6 6-7 13, Easton Kirk 1-3 0-0 2, Cardavian Myers 0-0 0-0 0, Malik Gamble 0-0 0-0 0, Neonta Alexander 0-2 0-0 0, Derrick Baer 0-0 0-0 0, C.J. Savage 1-2 0-0 2, Cody Daughtry 1-1 0-0 2, Brett Akin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-45 16-24 65.

Plainview 13 5 15 15 — 48
Piedmont 15 13 19 18 — 65

3-point goals: Plainview 7-22 (Ch. Willingham 3-8, Cooper 1-2, Co. Willingham 2-8, Slay 0-2, Graham 1-1, Ca. Willingham 0-1); Piedmont 1-8 (Jackson 0-2, Lusk 0-1, Brazier 1-2, Kirk 0-1, Alexander 0-1, Savage 0-1). Rebounds: Plainview 20 (Co. Willingham 5), Piedmont 35 (Hayes 7, Blanchard 7, Brazier 7). Total fouls: Plainview 22, Piedmont 15. Fouled out: Ch. Willingham, Glover, Clark). Officials: Dixon, Reyes, Harris.

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