E.A. Sports Today

Ohatchee ‘reserves’ victory

Lesser-known Indians step up to lead Ohatchee to area tournament victory, send Wellborn to winless season

Jordan Lowe (45) stepped up for an ailing teammate and gave Ohatchee a strong presence in the post. On the cover, Bayley Tillison (15) was another of the Indians’ next-men-up who delivered. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WEAVER — The Ohatchee basketball team has always played with a next-man-up mentality. The Indians had a lot of next men step up Tuesday and they helped get them into the subregion tournament for the first time in four seasons.

The Indians got solid showings from Jordan Lowe, Bayley Tillison and Carson Stone — three guys you don’t usually see a lot in their box score — and defeated Wellborn 59-33 in the Class 3A Area 9 boys tournament.

Lowe had 10 points, seven rebounds. Tillison had 11 points, seven rebounds. And Stone had eight points. They were getting their shot due to illness and injury that had been running through the roster.

“I was worried about today,” Indians coach Bryant Ginn said. “You lose two starters right out the gate and you start worrying about (Briley) Hale, too — that’s 30 points you’re not going to have, so who’s going to make it up?

“Talking to the guys before the game we said when your number’s called you just gotta step up. We’ve been about that all year — next man up, step up, when your number’s called go do your job.

“Those guys can do it, a lot of them have to have confidence about themselves. Take care of the ball, play good defense, the rest of it will take care of itself. Those guys are starting to grow up a little bit and played big for us down the stretch.”

Lowe was playing in place of Aaron Moore, who was ill and held out for precautionary reasons. He not only made his presence felt on the offensive end and the glass, but he even came up with a steal and turned it into an assist.

“We just knew all of us had to step up,” Lowe said. “He’s a big part of the team and he was out sick, so we all had to step up. I wasn’t really nervous. I knew my team had my back so I just went out there and played to the best of my capabilities.”

Tillison and Stone got their chance to shine when Evan Keller and Hale were held out to rest some injuries and they came through when some of the regulars couldn’t get shots to fall.

Stone hit the first basket of the game and scored six of his points in the first half as the Indians opened a 25-13 lead. Tillison was a factor in every quarter and wound up as their leading scorer.

“We’ve got to be prepared for it when it’s next man up,” Tillison said. “We’ve got a lot of people hurt, a lot of people sick, so when our name’s called we’ve got to step up. Watching everybody score, that’s fun to watch.”

The win sends Ohatchee to face top-seeded host Weaver Thursday night for the area title and guarantees the Tribe a spot in the subregionals for the first time since 2015, Ginn’s first season coaching the boys team.

The loss ended Wellborn’s season without a victory (0-22). The Panthers’ last win came over Ohatchee in this same playoff game, on this same floor, 364 days ago to the night.

The most credible research available has them the first boys team in the county since Wellborn in 2007-08 — two years before current coach Jordan Angle arrived at the school — to go through a season winless.

The Panthers’ two best chances to pick up a victory this season were a 69-64 loss to Gaston and a 64-60 loss to Faith Christian. They had a chance at the free throw line late in the Gaston game and were tied late in the game against Faith.

“It is very humbling,” Angle said. “It just breaks my heart for these kids that there wasn’t more I could do and we could do as coaches to help them just get one. This is something I’m going to look back on for a long time trying to find an answer. They played hard. They’re great kids. They never quit. They showed up every day. It just wasn’t in the cards.

“It’s upsetting for this group of kids that’s worked so hard to not be able to give them one. This is a first me, just like it’s a first for them. It’s tough. It’s tough.”

To see a photo gallery from the game visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

Ohatchee 59, Wellborn 33
WELLBORN (0-22) –
Jeremian Nolen 1 0-0 3, Eric Johnson 6 2-3 16, Khavion Wesley 1 2-2 4, Ked Harris 1 0-0 3, Kam Goodwin 1 1-1 3, Austin Cooper 2 0-1 4, Dylan Grubbs 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 5-7 33.

OHATCHEE (13-17) – Andrew Roberts 1 0-3 2, Blake Buckelew 1 2-2 4, Ben Glass 2 0-0 4, Carson Stone 4 0-0 8, Grayson Alward 0 2-4 2, Cameron Foushee 1 2-2 4, Kevin Williamson 2 1-2 6, Bayley Tillison 5 0-1 11, Austin Wyatt 0 0-0 0, Domonique Thomas 4 0-0 8, Landon Key 0 0-1 0, Jordan Lowe 5 0-0 10. Totals 25 7-14 59.

Wellborn 7 6 10 10 — 33
Ohatchee 13 12 17 17 — 59

3-point goals: Wellborn 4 (Nolen, Johnson 2, Harris); Ohatchee 2 (Williamson, Tillison). Fouled out: Johnson. Total fouls: Wellborn 14, Ohatchee 15. Officials: Holmes, Roberts, Graves.

Wellborn guard Eric Johnson drives to the basket against Ohatchee. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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