E.A. Sports Today

Hokes Bluff pulls shocker

Eagles rally from 10 down in fourth quarter, get a huge 3 from Simmons, stun Cherokee County in area tournament

Hokes Bluff’s Fisher Simmons drives to the basket in the first half, but in the closing seconds he hit a long 3-pointer that sent the Eagles to victory. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Things didn’t look too good for the Hokes Bluff Eagles midway through the fourth quarter Thursday night, but they answered their coach’s appeal and now they’re in the subregionals after pulling off one of the bigger upsets of the tournament.

The Eagles trailed by 10 with 3:30 to play, then scored the last 11 points of the game, capped by Fisher Simmons’ long 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds left, to upset Cherokee County 51-50 in the Class 4 Area 12 tournament at White Plains HIgh School.

The Eagles (14-16) will play top-seeded host White Plains (21-6) for the area tournament title Saturday at 7 p.m. Regardless of the outcome they will play a team either Saks or Handley in next week’s sub-regionals.

“I think this whole game revolved around trust and each other and on our coaches,” Simmons said. “My shot was just falling tonight and Landon (Johnson) trusted me with a shot to put us ahead.”

Cherokee County had beaten the Eagles by 15 and 27 in their two regular-season meetings and this one looked headed in that direction after Colin Edwards buried back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Warriors back the 10-point lead they had been maintaining most of the game.

That would be the last points the Warriors (18-8) would score.

“When I called the time out I just told them guys I know you’re tired, but I promise you just give me three and a half minutes of everything you’ve got and we’ll accept any outcome win lose or draw and they did,” Hokes Bluff coach Jeffrey Noah said.

Simmons said that message “fueled a fire” for the Eagles down the stretch. They outscored the Warriors 19-10 in the fourth quarter. Simmons had seven of his game-high 18 in the quarter.

“We’ve been playing good ball these past couple weeks and we don’t really want it to end right now,” he said. “We’re ecstatic right now.”

Simmons’ go-ahead 3-pointer came from halfway between the top of the key and center circle after a steal by Johnson off the press – it was their first lead of the game. He had three 3s in the second half, but none deeper than the dagger he stuck into the Warriors at the end.

“He’s not afraid of the moment; he’s a winner,” Noah said. “It was a little long but Fish shoots them all the time in practice. I get on to him sometimes, but I’m not going to get on to him right now.”

Cherokee County called time with 7.2 seconds left and Zae Wright lost the ball out of bounds with 3.7 seconds left, but the Warriors retained possession. Wright took the final shot from the top of the key right before the buzzer but it started off left of the goal and missed the mark.

“When we got the 10-point lead you think, ‘OK, we can stretch this thing out,’ but we didn’t,” Warriors coach Neal Wester said. “We had some turnovers and they made some shots and we didn’t get some rebounds and they got the momentum back. It was kind of a perfect storm there at the end.”

Hokes Bluff 51, Cherokee County 50
HOKES BLUFF (14-16) –
Fisher Simmons 5 5-6 18, Jace Stewart 1 0-0 2, Donovan Greaves 1 0-0 2, Landon Johnson 4 2-4 10, Hayden Lipscomb 4 2-5 10, Jeremy Black 0 1-2 1, Braydon Hill 1 0-1 2, Adam Patterson 1 2-4 4, Alex Cashman 1 0-0 2, Riley Payton 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 12-22 51.

CHEROKEE COUNTY (18-8) – Jacob Graves 1 0-0 2, Kyle Burgess 3 0-0 9, Colin Edwards 5 0-0 13, Riley Russell 2 0-0 4, Zae Wright 4 1-1 10, Ivory Moore 3 0-0 6, Marcus Barrington 0 0-0 0, Tyren Dupree 1 0-0 3, Jy Lockridge 1 0-0 2, Others 0 1-2 1.
Totals 20 2-3 50.

Hokes Bluff 10 12 10 19 — 51
Cherokee County 18 12 10 10 — 50

3-point goals: Hokes Bluff 3 (Simmons); Cherokee County 8 (Burgess 3, Edwards 3, Wright, Dupree). Total fouls: Hokes Bluff 12, Cherokee County 17.

Cherokee County’s Zae Wright (1) drives on Hokes Bluff’s Hayden Lipscomb (45) and Adam Patterson. Wright had the Warriors’ final shot of the game. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

On the cover: Hokes Bluff coach Jeffrey Noah appealed to his players to give him all they had in the final 3:30 of the game, and they responded. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

To see more B.J. Franklin pictures from the Hokes Bluff-Cherokee County game, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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