E.A. Sports Today

Tigers moving on, Vols zoned out

Class 5A Boys: Talladega advances to the regional finals; Clay Central falls to Guntersville

Jae-lyn Russ played his best game of the season Tuesday in the Northeast Regional and helped the Talladega move within one win of a berth in the Final Four. (All photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Jae-lyn Russ played what Talladega coach Chuck Miller called “the game of his life tonight” in Tuesday’s Class 5A Northeast Regional semifinal and there was a pretty simple reason for it.

“I didn’t want to go home,” the Tigers’ beefy 6-5 twin tower said. “I ain’t done.”

Russ gave the Tigers at least one more game in the playoffs, filling the box score with 19 points, 13 rebounds and bunch of hustle points in a 61-56 win over Scottsboro in Pete Mathews Coliseum.

The Tigers (25-8), playing in the Northeast Regional for the first time in nine years, now play Guntersville for the regional title in the final game of the tournament Thursday at 5:45 p.m.

The last time went to the Final Four in 2009. The last time they played in the regional here was 2008.

Russ, who’s headed to JSU as a football gray-shirt, played a season-high 30 minutes, which meant he played smart and stayed out of foul trouble. The Tigers had to look inside as Scottsboro guarded their guards and that’s where Russ flourished.

He was extremely active in the third quarter, scoring nine of his points as the Tigers broke away from a 32-all game to take a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter. He even ran the floor like you might not expect a 280-pounder to do to finish a possession with a dunk. He also had four steals, two assists and a blocked shot in the game.

Nothing unusual there.

“I’m always active,” he said.

“He leads us in fouls for a good reason,” Miller said.

Russ was one of three Tigers scoring in double figures as teammates picked up the slack for point guard Fred Dickerson’s foul trouble. In addition to Russ, Chaztin Tanner had 13 points and Ashton Duncan had 12. Even with his foul trouble Dickerson finished with seven assists.

“We got a couple big people but most the rest of us are 5-9, 5-10 and they just have to execute,” Miller said. “Instead of taking their size as a disadvantage we’re going to make it an advantage on everything.”

But it was Russ who was taking advantage of the room he was creating inside.

“Some folks when you see this atmosphere they step up their game,” Miller said. “Some people take a step back, but Jae-lyn stepped up his game. He knew he was the focus. I mean, he’s one of the bigger boys so it’s going to be obvious if he’s playing good or bad. And if he’s playing good there are going to be people cheering for him.”

Talladega coach Chuck Miller is one win away from his third trip to the Final Four.

Guntersville 57, Clay Central 50

The Wildcats have played zone defense one time this season. It was Tuesday afternoon in their 32nd game of the year that could have been their last and it was just another thing to disrupt Clay Central’s rhythm in its biggest game since consolidation.

The combination of the zone and the jitters of the moment conspired to send the Vols to a 57-50 loss in the Class 5A Northeast Regional. Guntersville will now play either Talladega in the Elite Eight Thursday evening.

The Wildcats (26-6) went to the zone because coach Russell Carr knew his team wouldn’t be able to guard the Vols (23-5) five-to-five and if the Vols ever got in the paint they’d be done. The decision kept Clay Central from running and when the Vols weren’t hitting it made for a lumbering pace.

It was a particularly “difficult” day for Vols star Davyn Flenord. The South Alabama football signee got in foul trouble early and it eventually limited him to six points in 19 minutes. He did, however, have a spectacular dunk early in the game, but it was shortly after the Wildcats started pulling away.

It was as Flenord sat out most of the second quarter with two fouls the Wildcats made their hay. They stretched a 16-13 first-quarter lead to 32-23 at halftime.

The Vols were a different team after the break and while Flenord continued to struggle his teammates picked up the slack and got them back within three heading into the fourth quarter. They eventually tied it at 39 and led briefly.

Guntersville’s C.J. Williamson made the play of the game with less than a minute to go and the score tied at 48. He stole the ball from Flenord and coverted it into a layup that gave the Wildcats the lead for good 50-48. He made another layup moments later to extend the lead to 52-48.

Williamson and Cavin Collie led Guntersville with 19 points each. Williamson also grabbed 12 rebounds. Joe Bullock led Clay Central with 14 points. Ben Street had 10 points and Quan McKinney grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the outcome of the game,” Vols coach Joby Burns said. “We definitely didn’t play our best, we got behind, but they had a lot to do with it.

“I didn’t think we’d be, but I think we were just a little in awe of being here and the different surroundings. We didn’t play as fast and as free as we have been early. I thought we were a little tight early. The second half we turned it up and got back in the game and had a chance to go ahead late and it didn’t work out.”

The Clay Central defense turns up the pressure on Guntersville’s Josh Perry. (Photo by Al Muskewitz)

Guntersville 57, Clay Central 50
Chrishon Hampton 3-15 0-0 8, Cavin Collin 7-12 2-3 8, C.J. Williams 7-12 5-9 19, Tucker Bonds 0-1 0-0 0, Logan Bonds 2-6 1-2 5, Izaak Parker 1-4 3-4 5, Josh Perry 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 20-51 12-20 57.

CLAY CENTRAL (23-5) – Davyn Flenord 2-7 2-5 6, Ben Street 4-9 2-7 10, Camerun Peoples 2-6 0-0 4, Quan McKinney 3-7 0-1 6, Joe Bullock 5-20 3-5 14, Cole Burns 1-3 0-0 2, Jamal Williamson 3-6 0-0 8, Shamari Simmons 0-2 0-0 0, LaShawn Simmons 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-60 7-18 50.

Guntersville 16 16 4 21 — 57
Clay Central 13 10 10 17 — 50

3-point goals: Guntersville 5-26 (Hampton 2-11, Collie 3-6, Williamson 0-1, T. Bonds 0-1, L. Bonds 0-4, Parker 0-2, Perry 0-1); Clay Central 3-25 (Flenord 0-4, Street 0-1, Bullock 1-12, Burns 0-2, Williams 2-5, S. Simmons 0-1). Rebounds: Guntersville 42 (Williamson 12, Collie 8); Clay Central 42 (McKinney 14, Bullock 8). Total fouls: Guntersville 16, Clay Central 19. Officials: Ken Barnett, Kelly Armstrong, Marvin Wesley.

Talladega 61, Scottsboro 56
SCOTTSBORO (19-14) –
Brady Roberson 2-6 6-6 11, Seth Ingleright 4-14 0-0 9, Jackson Bailey 4-10 4-6 12, Bo Nix 8-11 3-4 21, Jacquez Talley 0-8 0-0 0, Asa Sparks 0-0 0-0 0, Tres Sanford 0-0 0-0 0, B.J. Harris 0-1 0-0 0, Butler Bell 0-0 0-0 0, Thomas Gibson 0-0 0-0 0, Matt Hearn 0-2 3-4 3. Totals 18-52 16-20 56.

TALLADEGA (25-8) – Fred Dickerson 2-6 4-5 9, Jarvis McKenzie 0-1 1-2 1, Ashton Duncan 4-13 2-4 12, Robert Houston 2-4 1-2 5, Jae-lyn Russ 8-12 3-8 19, Chaztin Tanner 4-7 3-4 13, Tyrese Scales 0-0 0-0 0, Chrishawn Williams 1-4 0-0 2, TraShaundez Bolton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-48 14-25 61.

Scottsboro 10 16 10 20 — 56
Talladega 10 16 17 18 — 61

3-point goals: Scottsboro 4-20 (Roberson 1-3, Ingleright 1-8, Nix 2-2, Talley 0-6, Harris 0-1); Talladega 5-15 (Dickerson 1-2, McKenzie 0-1, Duncan 2-7, Tanner 2-5). Rebounds: Scottsboro 31 (Bailey 8); Talladega 37 (Russ 13). Assists: Scottsboro 10 (Talley 3, Harris 3); Talladega 16 (Dickerson 7, Duncan 5). Fouled out: Nix. Total fouls: Scottsboro 20, Talladega 19. Officials: Bill Young, Sonny Scyphers, Gerrel Debardelaben.

Ashton Duncan soars through the Scottsboro defense on his way to the basket. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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