E.A. Sports Today

Handley heartbreaker

Madison Academy rallies from 15 down in the third, six late in overtime to end the Tigers’ dreams

Handley’s Darius Joiner (1) concentrates on the rim while Madison Academy’s Calvin Walker flies in for a potential rebound. (All photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos).

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — The Madison Academy Mustangs were convinced Monday the basketball gods were on their side, while for the Handley Tigers the devil was in the details.

The second-ranked Mustangs ruined Handley’s post-season dreams Monday with an 86-83 overtime win in the Class 4A Northeast Regional semifinals at Jacksonville State.

Madison Academy will play Saks (20-8) Thursday for a trip to the Final Four.

Handley held leads of 15 in the third quarter and six with a minute left in overtime, but the Mustangs made the plays they needed down the stretch to win.

“That game could have gone either way about 10 or 15 times,” Mustangs coach Andy Blackston said. “I thought we really weathered the storm. The thing that came to my mind when I saw them play that fourth quarter and overtime and execute was championship poise. They never panicked. They made huge plays when they could have panicked.”

“The basketball gods were on our side today,” said Myles Parker, who led Mad Acad with 31 points and 12 rebounds.

Up to that point the Tigers (23-6) were able to turn back the Huntsville-area private school at every threat, never giving up the lead.

Handley shot 63 percent from the field in the first half and was as efficient as it has been all season building a 48-40 halftime lead. A decided foul differential prevented the Tigers from being as aggressive as they were in the first half “in spots” in the second half and overtime.

The Tigers led 57-42 with 3:55 left in the third quarter, but they needed Jay Brown’s layup with 43 seconds left to tie the game and force overtime. The Mustangs had a shot to win it at the end and milked the clock deep into single digits, but Calvin Bacon shot a weak 3 at the buzzer.

Parker’s dunk gave the Mustangs a 77-72 lead in overtime. Handley then went on an 11-0 run to go up 83-77. When Qua Patterson came off the bench to hit a 3 with a minute left it looked as if the Tigers had this one wrapped.

But it would be their final points of the game.

“They made one more play than we did down the stretch; that’s sometimes how the game happens,” Handley coach Blake Smalley said. “Basketball is a game of runs and sometimes you don’t always make the end run.”

It wasn’t the first time in the postseason the Tigers let a late double-digit lead get away. They were up 13 early in the fourth quarter of the area championship game and lost to Saks.

Brown led Handley with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Darius Joiner had 18, but was held to three points in the second half and overtime by KeKe matthews. Three other Tigers scored in double figures.

“To get up here, to get a lead like that at the end of the game and lose it, there’s no excuse for what we did,” Joiner said. “We should be going to the Elite Eight right now. We’ve been in this situation so many times it just hurts to let it happen again.”

Myles Parker (1) and Calvin Walker combined to score 55 points for Madison Academy Monday.

Madison Academy 86, Handley 83 (OT)
Myles Parker 9-15 12-17 31, KeKe Matthews 1-7 4-5 7, Calvin Walker 9-16 1-2 24, Calvin Bacon 2-6 0-0 6, Collin Blanchard 6-11 4-5 16, Adam Hairston 0-0 0-0 0, Jaylen Pressley 1-1 0-0 2, James Nix 0-1 0-0 0, Luke Tomlinson 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 28-59 21-29 86.

HANDLEY (23-6) – Darius Joiner 7-18 2-4 18, Jay Brown 10-16 3-3 23, Dre Watkins 1-3 0-0 3, Tyrese Heard 5-8 1-4 11, Kadarius Foster 4-5 3-3 11, Gabe Gates 4-6 1-1 10, Qua Patterson 2-2 0-0 5, Josh Hatcher 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 33-58 12-17 83.

Madison Acad. 23 17 12 20 14 — 86
Handley 25 23 13 11 11 — 83

3-point goals: Madison Acad. 9-23 (Parker 1-2, Matthews 1-2, Walker 5-9, Bacon 2-6, Blanchard 0-3, Tomlinson 0-1); Handley 5-10 (Joiner 2-5, Watkins 1-3, Gates 1-1, Patterson 1-1). Rebounds: Madison Acad. 28 (Parker 12); Handley 36 (Brown 10, Heard 6, Foster 6). Assists: Madison Acad. 13 (Walker 6); Handley 12 (Brown 4). Fouled out: Blanchard, Foster. Total fouls: Madison Acad. 18, Handley 24. Officials: Alan Cosby, Terry Anthony, Kyle Chambers.

Madison Academy’s bench erupts in joy after the Mustangs rallied to beat Handley in overtime.

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