E.A. Sports Today

They’re ba-a-a-ck

Sacred Heart beats Spain Park on Diante Wood’s 3-pointer at the buzzer; Wood finishes with 33

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By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Just in case anyone has forgotten, see what Sacred Heart can do when it has its full complement of players.

Diante Wood capped a 33-point game with a running 3-pointer at the buzzer this morning to give Sacred Heart a thrilling 63-61 win over 7A Spain Park in the Tournament of Champions Classic at Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga.

It was the Cardinals’ third straight win since their five players returned from serving suspensions for leaving the bench following a hard foul on teammate Kevion Nolan in a game with Spring Garden earlier this month. It was by far the most dramatic.

The lead changed hands 15 times, nine times in the fourth quarter. Neither team led by more than five.

The Cardinals led by five with 3:17 to play, but Spain Park rallied and took the lead with four seconds left on a pair of free throws by Jamal Johnson. The Cardinals didn’t have a lot of time, but with all their players available, they had plenty of options.

“We got a timeout and went in the huddle and drew up a play,” Wood said. “I was supposed to come to get the ball but couldn’t. D.J. (Heath) got it, dribbled a little past half-court and they went to double-team him and I was open. By the time I got it there was like a second left. I shot it and it went in.

“I never made a game-winning shot before. When it went in, I was excited, the bench came off the floor and we all celebrated.”

The Cardinals were 1-5 during the window of the suspensions, which were supposed to be four games but carried into the Steel City Invitational, relying largely on remaining starter Nolan and sixth-man Kahlil Watkins. They are 3-1 since the players have returned.

“Sitting out six games for no reason made us want to come out and play hard and make a statement,” Wood said. “Our first game back we were a little out of rhythm and a lot of things were going slow, but after that we came together and picked it up like we had missed six games.”

Wood had 21 points in the second half. He was 7-of-10 from the floor in the half and 6-of-8 from the line.

In his four games back, he has averaged 20.8 points and 8.5 rebounds, shooting 31-for-57 from the field (54.4 percent) and 20-for-27 from the line. In the Cardinals’ three-game winning streak he is averaging 23 points and 7.7 boards, going 24-of-42 from the floor.

“I’m just blessed about what I’ve been doing so far,” he said. “I think I had pretty good tournament.”

Heath had 20 points and seven assists for the Cardinals.

(On the cover: Diante Wood goes to the basket in this file photo from last year’s Final Four. (Photo by Kristen Stringer/KrispPics Photography)

Tournament of Champions, Marrietta, Ga.
Sacred Heart 63, Spain Pain 61
Jamal Johnson 7-17 3-4 19, Trevor Williams 6-7 2-2 15, Brooklyn Polk 4-8 2-3 11, Xavier Blanchard 4-7 2-2 11, Lynn Kidd 2-4 0-0 5, Parker Boswell 0-3 0-0
0, Ronald Forison 0-0 0-0 0, Justice Canady 0-2 0-0 0, Trey Johnson 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 23-50 9-11 61.

SACRED HEART – Diante Wood 11-18 10-12 33, DJ Heath 9-15 1-8 20, Murdock Simmons 2-5 0-2 4, Kevion Nolan 1-3 2-3 4, Dakota Myers 1-4 0-0 2, Jackson Dodson 0-0 0-0 0, Khalil Watkins 0-2 0-0 0, Stephen Stansil 0-0 0-0 0, Layton Cheatwood 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-47 13-25 63.

Spain Park 16 12 14 19 — 61
Sacred Heart 19 13 9 22 — 63

3-point goals: Spain Park 6-16 (J. Johnson 2-6, Williams 1-1, Blanchard 1-3, Kidd 1-2, Polk 1-3, T. Johnson 0-1); Sacred Heart 2-12 (Wood 1-1, Heath 1-6, Nolan 0-1, Myers 0-1, Watkins 0-2, Simmons 0-1). Rebounds: Spain Park 38 (Williams 9); Sacred Heart 22 (Myers 7). Assists: Spain Park 11 (J. Johnson 6), Sacred Heart 9 (Heath 7). Fouled out: Blanchard, Nolan. Total fouls: Spain Park 18, Sacred Heart 15.

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