E.A. Sports Today

Big finish

Stone, Sacred Heart use big second half to turn back No. 1 Fyffe and reach regional finals

At Jacksonville State
Sacred Heart 37, Fyffe 37
LaFayette 99, North Sand Mountain 71
Championship game
Sacred Heart vs. LaFayette, Tuesday, 8:15 p.m.

To see a gallery of photos  from this game visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Jayden Stone was just 2-for-10 from the floor in the first half of an uncharacteristically low-scoring Sacred Heart basketball game, but you don’t keep a 4-star talent like that down long. It was just a matter of time.

Stone and his Sacred Heart teammates came to life in the third quarter and carried on to a 47-37 win over top-ranked Fyffe in the Class 2A Northeast Regional semifinals at Jacksonville State.

The Cardinals (20-10), winners of the last four 1A state titles, will play LaFayette (28-4) in the regional finals Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. LaFayette crushed North Sand Mountain 99-71. 

Stone finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds after his slow start. He had 20 points, going 8-for-15 from the floor, and nine boards in the second half when the Cardinals were, in coach Ralph Graves’ words, “more assertive.”
He wasn’t only scoring. Stone was grabbing rebounds and when he wasn’t taking it himself he was finding the outlet to start the offense.

“In the first half I was just overly aggressive; I wasn’t very relaxed, I was quite tense,” the junior said. “I felt on a lot of my shots usually if I don’t follow through or if I try to sell the foul, which I have a bad habit of doing, then I’m usually get lackadaisical on offense.

“But coach just gave me the confidence and these guys just told me to keep playing. We had a great game plan in the second half to just be aggressive and so I felt more relaxed as I went into the game and I was loose and managed to get on a good

Stone hit four of his first five shots in the third quarter as the Cardinals pulled away from a 15-15 halftime tie to take a 26-19 lead that stretched to 34-20.

When Fyffe cut its deficit to six in the fourth quarter, Stone scored six of the next eight points to make it a 14-point game.

“If he’s cooking that’s who we’re going to,” Graves said. “If someone else is cooking we’ll go to him, but (Stone) had a really good third quarter.”

Nobody was cooking in the first half. The Cardinals had a couple five- and six-point leads in the half, but there wasn’t a lot of scoring.
The Cardinals looked like they’d have the halftime lead after two Aaron Moore free throws with 5.1 seconds left. But Parker Godwin’s coast-to-coast layup at the buzzer earned Fyffe it’s 15-all tie at the break.
“When you’re not scoring people think you’re playing bad, but the defense was there,” Graves said. “Your defense and rebounding has to show up every night, even when your offense doesn’t show up, and it did until our offense got going. I think that was the difference.”

Sacred Heart 47, Fyffe 37
FYFFE (26-6) –
Austin Buster 2-5 0-0 5, Micah Johnson 1-3 1-2 3, Parker Godwin 5-9 1-2 13, Tucker Goolesby 1-5 3-4 5, Gabe Gardner 2-7 1-2 7, Hunter Benefield 0-0 0-0 0, Tate Goolesby 1-2 0-0 2, Brody Dalton 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 13-33 6-10 37.
SACRED HEART (20-10) – Khalil Watkins 4-11 1-3 9, Allen Marshall 0-0 0-0 0, Caleb Brown 1-4 1-2 3, Jayden Stone 10-25 3-6 25, Cade Landers 1-3 0-0 2, Jack Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Taishun Hall 0-0 0-0 0, K.D. Harris 0-1 0-0 0, Aaron Moore 3-5 2-4 8. Totals 19-50 7-15 47.
Fyffe                      5               10             8              14            –                37
Sacred Heart       7               8               19            13            –                47
3-point goals: Fyffe 5-15 (Buster 1-4, Johnson 0-1, Godwin 2-3, Gardner 2-7); Sacred Heart 2-12 (Watkins 0-3, Brown 0-1, Stone 2-6, Miller 0-1, Harris 0-1). Rebounds: Fyffe 30 (Johnson 8, T. Goolesby 7); Sacred Heart 28 (Stone 12, Moore 6). Fouled out: Godwin. Total fouls: Fyffe 20, Sacred Heart 13. Officials: Fred Bates, Kyle Chambers, Terry Anthony.

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