E.A. Sports Today

Piedmont gets it done

Brazier, Kirk both have double-doubles leading Piedmont back to regionals, where it faces a rematch with Plainview (5 OTs last year)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT – It wasn’t one of the prettiest games Piedmont has played this season, but then, coach Tommy Lewis has had to learn a lot about winning ugly this year.

The Bulldogs earned a return trip to the Northeast Regionals Tuesday night by taking down county rival Wellborn 60-49 in the Class 3A sub-regionals. They now play Plainview in the regional semifinals at Jacksonville State Monday at 4:30 p.m.; the teams played a five-overtime classic in the regionals there last year.

“It wasn’t a very pretty game, but we played well, we played hard,” Lewis said of Tuesday’s win. “The fans said it was a good game, but from the coaching side it didn’t feel like it. The main thing is we played hard. And we hit some key shots.”

Austin Brazier and Easton Kirk both had big games for the Bulldogs (16-14), who interestingly have played more games than they’ve had practices this season owing to their late start from football.

Brazier, who has been a beast since the Calhoun County Tournament (where the Bulldogs beat Wellborn in the opening round), had 24 points and 15 rebounds. Kirk had 17 points and 12 boards.

“It was the kind of thing you hoped seniors would do in the final game on their home court,” Lewis said.

Brazier and Kirk scored all their team’s points in the first quarter as the Bulldogs took a 16-14 lead. Brazier was blanked in the second quarter, but made up for it in the second half. He scored 13 in the fourth quarter, going 8-for-8 from the free throw line. He was 11 of 12 from the line for the game.

“I’ve been working on it a lot,” Brazier said of his free throws. “I’ve missed a lot more than I usually do, it’s probably been one of the worst free throw shooting years I probably had, but I’ve picked it up lately. From now on, you lose and you go home. I really didn’t want to lose tonight.”

The Bulldogs were 12 of 13 from the line as a team in the fourth quarter as Wellborn was forced to foul in the final five minutes of a close game to stop the clock. They also hit nine 3-pointers in the game, three each by Brazier (3-for-3), Kirk and A.J. Fairs.

Fairs hit all three of his 3s in the second half, prompting Wellborn coach Jordan Angle to say “he was the difference in my opinion.”

The Bulldogs also did a good job defensively on Blake Hanson. Derrick Baer and Cardavion Myers did not score in the game, but they stayed up in the Panthers scoring leader’s face all game and held him to 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Hanson did grab seven rebounds and had two steals.

Devin Machristie kept the Panthers in the game with 16 points; he hit four 3-pointers. Jordan Montgomery had 11 points and finished his Wellborn career with 993. Kelvin Evans had eight points (on 4-of-5 shooting) and a team-high eight rebounds.

“It feels good (to be going to Jacksonville),” Kirk said. “The way you started the year really doesn’t matter much, it’s how you play at the end and your goal is to get to Jacksonville.

“Coach Lewis was getting mad at us in the beginning of the year at how we were playing. Since I’ve been in high school we never really played that bad, even after going deep in football. He’s had to go through a lot having to wait on us; it feels good getting him back to JSU. I think we’re peaking at the right time to make a run at it again.”

Piedmont 60, Wellborn 49
Chuck Taylor 0 0-2 0, Mitchell Raines 0 0-0 0, Eric Johnson 1 2-2 4, Jordan Montgomery 5 0-0 11, Devin Machristie 4 4-4 16, Kam Goodwin 0 0-0 0, Blake Hanson 4 2-3 10, Kelvin Evans 4 0-0 8. Totals 18 8-11 49.

PIEDMONT (16-14) – A.J. Fairs 3 0-0 9, Cardavion Myers 0 0-0 0, Taylor Hayes 3 2-6 8, Derrick Baer 0 0-0 0, Easton Kirk 5 4-5 17, Carl Myers 0 0-0 0, Lee Stanley 0 0-0 0, Austin Brazier 5 11-12 24, Weston Kirk 0 2-2 2, T.J. Fairs 0 0-0 0, Kaedon Jenkins 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 19-25 60.

Wellborn 14 8 11 16 — 49
Piedmont 16 11 13 20 — 60

3-point goals: Wellborn 5 (Montgomery, Machristie 4); Piedmont 9 (A. Fairs 3, E. Kirk 3, Brazier 3). Fouled out: Hanson. Total fouls: Wellborn 17, Piedmont 12.

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