E.A. Sports Today

Wildcats flipped

Hot shooting Hokes Bluff knocks White Plains out of area title coin toss; flip goes to Jacksonville

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

White Plains could see the finish line and the prize that awaited it, but the Wildcats just couldn’t get there.
Matthew Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds left, Simeon Shadrix missed a 3 at the buzzer and Hokes Bluff won 58-57 to knock the Wildcats from a potential three-way tie and a coin flip for first place in their area.

Instead, the Wildcats fell to third and will play Cherokee County in their Class 4A Area 10 tournament opener Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. Jacksonville won the coin toss and will be host and top seed. Fourth-seeded Hokes Bluff will play Jacksonville Feb. 7 at 5:30.
White Plains (13-9) has lost five games this season by four points or fewer. Its last three losses have been by a combined eight points.

“It was just a tough way to finish,” Wildcats coach Chris Randall said. “I’ve got to do a better job getting us across the finish line. I’ve got to find the right buttons and give the guys confidence. It’s a tough loss.”

Hokes Bluff hit a season-high 13 of the 20 3s in the game but it wasn’t the long ball that did in White Plains. The Wildcats were 2 for 6 from the free throw line in the game and failed to convert three straight one-and-ones in the final 37 seconds that could have put the game away; two they missed from the front end.

Brody Baker gave White Plains a six-point lead with 1:01 to play with eight straight points. 

Baker and Gavin Burrage were huge for White Plains in a fourth quarter that started as measured as a chess match. Baker scored nine of his 20 in the quarter and Burrage kept several possessions alive with rebounds.

Johnson’s contested go-ahead 3 came after the Wildcats’ missed their third straight one-and-one. On the final play, Quin Wilson brought the ball across midcourt for White Plains, stopped at the top of the key and passed to Wildcats sniper Shadrix a few feet away, not seeing Matthew Clay open in the corner. Shadrix put up a rushed 3 that fell short of the mark.

Johnson also played a key role in bringing the Eagles back in their Etowah County tournament opener against Sardis. He played in the B-team game when Hokes Bluff and White Plains played the first time this season.

“I didn’t know how it would work out,” Hokes Bluff coach Jeff Noah said. “I told the guys before the game — and this what I’ve been preaching here lately — play hard and be coachable. 

“I think we went through spurts in the first half and a couple early in the second half where we didn’t necessarily play as hard and then I thought we kind of got that straightened out and we played hard and we tried to do what’s coachable. That’s all you can ask of kids.”
Johnson finished with nine points of three 3-pointers. Donovan Greaves had 14 points with four 3s. Hayden Lipscomb had 14 points and 15 rebounds. 
Shortly after the game Randall and Noah made their way to Jacksonville for the area meeting. The coin toss was the first order of business. Cherokee County coach Neal Wester called tails, it came up heads and the bracket was set.
“I didn’t know if that quarter was ever going to stop rolling,” Jacksonville coach Cordell Hunt said. “I’m super excited about it, I look forward to the opportunity (to host), but our area is so tough 1 through 4 if we don’t come to play it ain’t going to matter.” 

Hokes Bluff 58, White Plains 57
Payton Lemons 2 1-2 7, Caleb McGinnis 1 0-0 3, Braydon Hill 2 0-4 5, Jordan Presley 0 0-0 0, Dylan Teague 2 0-0 6, Coby Latham 0 0-0 0, Matthew Johnson 3 0-0 9, Ethan Whitcomb 0 0-0 0, Hayden Lipscomb 4 6-7 14, Donovan Greaves 5 0-0 14. Totals 19 7-13 58.
WHITE PLAINS – Coleman Messer 3 0-0 6, Houston Conger 0 0-0 0, Quin Wilson 5 1-1 13, Jaden Chatman 3 0-0 7, Simeon Shadrix 2 0-0 5, Brody Baker 8 1-3 20, Matthew Clay 2 0-2 4, Jaden Harris 0 0-0 0, Kahlil Williams 0 0-0 0, Gavin Burrage 2 0-0 4. Totals 24 2-6 57.
Hokes Bluff         14            15            12            17            –               58
White Plains       18            18            9              12            –               57
3-point goals: Hokes Bluff 13 (Lemons 2, McGinnis, Hill, Teague 2, Johnson 3, Greaves 4); White Plains 7 (Wilson 2, Chatman, Shadrix, Baker 3). Total fouls: Hokes Bluff 12, White Plains 11. Officials: Burroughs, Batey, Howell.

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