E.A. Sports Today

Sacred Heart rolls into final

Cardinals have three double-doubles, reach boys 1A title game for first time

Sacred Heart's D.J. Heath (5) makes a move around A.L. Johnson's Gregory Baker. Heath was one of three Cardinals to post double-doubles in victory. (Photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

Sacred Heart’s D.J. Heath (5) makes a move around A.L. Johnson’s Gregory Baker. Heath was one of three Cardinals to post double-doubles in victory. (Photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

BIRMINGHAM — If Sacred Heart conjured up the kind of game it enjoyed in the Class 1A state semifinals Monday in The Lab this week there must be some pretty powerful science in there.

The Lab is what the Cardinals call practice these days. It’s the place they go to work on getting better. They certainly had the right formula Monday.

They used a thoroughly dominating performance to blast A.L. Johnson 74-40 and earn a spot in the Class 1A boys state championship game.

The Cardinals (25-8) will play Sunshine (28-4) Thursday at 6 p.m. in the BJCC. The teams played each other in a summer league camp last summer.

“You always come into a basketball game wanting to dominate; not too many people like playing close ones,” Sacred Heart coach Ralph Graves said. “We’ll take it close. We’ll take it dominant. We’ll take it either way. This time of year you’re just trying to win and you’re just trying to advance.”

The Cardinals, who lost in last year’s state semifinals, had three double-doubles against the Eagles (14-5) and almost had a fourth. Diante Wood had 22 points, 13 rebounds; D.J. Heath had 14 points, 12 rebounds; Kevion Nolan had 17 points, 13 rebounds.

Nolan missed a triple-double by two assists and Kavarri Ross came within four rebounds of a double-double.

None of the four is older than a tenth-grader.

“A double-double for anybody is huge, to have three on the same team is magnificent,” Graves said. “To have three kids on the team to have a double-double I’m extremely blessed.”

The Cardinals jumped on the Eagles early and stayed there. They led by 13 at halftime and steadily pulled away in the second half while the Eagles shot only 16 percent shooting from the floor. Nolan had 12 of his points, eight of his rebounds and five of his assists in the second half.

The Eagles had no scorer in double figures.

“I guess you could say it was easy,” Nolan said. “We came out and knew that we had to make a statement. We knew they were coming out with all the momentum and being hyped about the game.

“We knew we had to come out and hit them in the mouth. After we hit them in the mouth and they couldn’t throw another punch it was like we took their will from them. That’s the whole plan in every game the whole year — if you take the will of a team then it’s over with. We took the will from them and they laid down.”

The championship game matchup didn’t materialize until Monday afternoon, but Graves has known since the summer the Cardinals and Sunshine would be the two teams meeting for the title.

The teams faced each other in a summer camp game at Alabama – with Sunshine winning by double digits – but Graves quickly pointed out “that doesn’t mean anything now” and he expects to matchup well with the Tigers.

Heath said the Cardinals “were terrible in that game, we didn’t play any defense in the summertime.” He expects it a completely different approach this time. The Tigers earned their trip to the final with a 61-46 win over Phillips. Walter Jones scored 26 points and Keonta Edwards had 12 points and 16 rebounds.

“We’re going to beat them; that’s what we’re planning to do,” Heath said. “We’re going to go back to The Lab and we’re going to work.”

Sam Miller (3) moves around Gregory Baker for a layup. On the cover, Sacred Heart gets ready to take the floor in the Class 1A boys semifinal against A.L. Johnson.

Sam Miller (3) moves around Gregory Baker for a layup. On the cover, Sacred Heart gets ready to take the floor in the Class 1A boys semifinal against A.L. Johnson.


Sacred Heart 74, A.L. Johnson 40

SACRED HEART (25-8) – Diante Wood 9-19 4-7 22, Kavarri Ross 4-13 1-2 10, DJ Heath 6-9 2-6 14, Keith Orlowski 0-0 0-0 0, Kevion Nolan 4-14 7-8 17, Sam Miller 2-4 2-2 6, Darrin Wood 1-1 0-0 2, Caleb Lafollette 0-1 0-0 0, Bradley Mayfield 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson Orlowski 0-0 0-0 0, Tucker Norman 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 27-60 16-25 74.

A.L. JOHNSON (14-5) – Charles Edwards 3-14 0-0 7, Jeremy Mitchell 2-12 1-4 7, Tywon Scott 0-4 3-4 3, Shermon Kennedy 3-5 0-2 7, Desmond Mair 4-12 0-1 8, Jeremiah Smith 0-3 0-0 0, Gregory Baker 3-12 2-4 9, Dyshaun Thrash 0-2 0-1 0, Lewis Anderson 0-4 0-0 0, Alfred Hudson 0-0 1-2 1, Cadarius Howard 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 15-70 7-18 46.

Sacred Heart 17 17 24 16 — 74
A.L. Johnson 10 11 14 5 — 40

3-point goals: Sacred Heart 4-10 (Di. Wood 0-1, Ross 1-4, Nolan 2-4, Norman 1-1); A.L. Johnson 3-19 (Edwards 1-7, Mitchell 0-3, Kennedy 1-2, Mair 0-1, Smith 0-1, Baker 1-3, Anderson 0-1, Howard 0-1). Rebounds: Sacred Heart 53 (Di. Wood 13, Nolan 13, Heath 12); A.L. Johnson 46 (Scott 9). Total fouls: Sacred Heart 11, A.L. Johnson 18. Fouled out: Kennedy. Officials: Corbitt, Driver, Gordon.

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