E.A. Sports Today

End of the line

Alexandria falls to Ramsay in Class 5A Northeast Regional finals; Rams headed to Final Four for third straight year

Ramsay 69, Alexandria 58
LeFlore vs. Sipsey Valley
Sylacauga 70, Greenville 63
Lee 70, Jemison 43
At Bill Harris Arena, Birmingham
Sylacauga (22-3) vs. Lee, Saturday, 11:30 a.m
Ramsay (26-7) vs. LeFlore-Sipsey Valley winner, Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – The Magnificent Seven was looking for a chance to ride one more time, but in the end couldn’t put enough runs together to get over the hump.

Alexandria, which won an area title and made it all the way to the Elite 8 with seven varsity players, came to the end of the winding road Monday when it lost to Ramsay in the Class 5A Northeast Regional final at Jacksonville State, 69-58.

The Valley Cubs (15-9) played catch-up from the time Ramsay’s Brandon Nixon buried back-to-back 3s from the right corner in the first minute of the game and only three times were able to score on consecutive trips without the Rams getting something in between.

The first came midway through the second quarter and got them within three (26-23). The next came early in the third and drew them within five. They had a chance for more, but turned the next possession over and the Rams shortly thereafter went up by 10. The final time came in the closing minutes of the game when it was all but decided.

The Rams (26-7) will play either LeFlore or Sipsey Valley in the 5A semifinals Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in the Bill Harris Arena. It’s their third straight trip to the Final Four and sixth in the last eight years.

“They did a good job keeping us at arm’s length,” Alexandria coach Jason Johnson said. “It seemed like we were always about 10 points down, eight points down. We made a couple little runs there in the first half, but we just couldn’t get over quite the hump. 

“You’ve got to give it to them. Most teams against these guys have had trouble sustaining any eight- or 10-point runs or anything. They’re pretty doggone good team. They’re very quick, challenging shots. With our limited depth, it’s hard for us to simulate that.”

The Cubs started the year with a full complement of players, but lost a big chunk of it shortly after the holidays when several chose to focus on offseason football. 

Four of their five starters Monday played at least 29 minutes. D’Anthony Walton played 24 minutes, but fouled out early in the fourth quarter. The Cubs’ other two varsity players, Ivonte Davis and Kory Cargal, played a combined 14 minutes.

Landan Williams led Alexandria with 18 points and 12 rebounds in his final high school game. Collin Taylor also scored 18 points for the Valley Cubs.

Ramsay coach Dalton Johnson praised Alexandria’s five starters as “solid … as good as we’ve seen.” Still, when the Rams saw the disparity in numbers — basically a 2-to-1 ratio — they readily admitted the game plan was to wear down the Valley Cubs by committee.

The Rams played 10, had eight play at least 10 minutes and none more than 25 minutes.

“We really couldn’t get anything going today,” Walton said.

It really hurt the Cubs’ chances when Walton fouled out in the first minute of the fourth quarter with his team down 10. He had been their hottest scorer in the playoffs. They already had a limited roster and now lost their offense.

Johnson called it a turning point in the game.

Still, to their credit, even with limited numbers the Cubs were able to win eight of their 10 games after the Calhoun County Tournament.

“These guys just had to really grow up and we had to really do some very difficult and hard conditioning because they realized they couldn’t come off the floor for a whole lot of time,” Johnson said. “But they had to be mature about it.

“Sometimes if you only have a few players they will kind of coast and say hey he can’t take me out because we don’t have but seven. So, we had to be mature about it and we had to have some heart-to-heart talks if we want to get better, we got to bow up and we’ve got to grow up.

“I think what these guys were able to see is it’s not how you start it’s how you finish. There’s some teams that beat us early in the year that if they were to have to play Ramsay they might get beat by 70 or 80. We were struggling at the beginning of the year, but we kept telling them it was going to be OK, it’s how you finish. We started playing our best basketball here in the last month.”

Boys Championship Game
Ramsay 69, Alexandria 58
Javais McGhee 2-9 3-3 5, D’Anthony Walton 3-8 1-4 7, Collin Taylor 6-15 2-4 18, Julian Wright 3-6 1-2 7, Landan Williams 9-16 0-0 18, Ivonte Davis 0-1 0-0 0, Kory Cargal 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-56 7-13 58.
RAMSAY (26-7) – Preston Davis 2-6 2-5 6, Calvin Burns 2-6 3-4 7, Keshawn Murphy 6-9 1-3 15, Kamren Ivory 3-5 2-3 8, Brandon Nixon 3-5 0-0 9, Jalen Jones 3-6 0-0 6, Kerrington Kiel 4-7 2-4 12, Skylar Lykes 0-1 0-0 0, Cameron White 0-4 1-1 1, Montez Dunston 2-4 0-0 5. Totals 25-53 11-20 69.
Alexandria           11   16   16  15   –  58
Ramsay                   17   18  18   16   –  69
3-point goals: Alexandria 5-20 (McGhee 1-5, Walton 0-3, Taylor 4-11, Davis 0-1); Ramsay 8-18 (Davis 0-1, Murphy 2-3, Ivory 0-1, Nixon 3-5, Kiel 2-3, Lykes 0-1, White 0-1, Dunson 1-3). Rebounds: Alexandria 36 (Williams 12), Ramsay 36 (Kiel 7). Fouled out: Walton, Murphy. Total fouls: Alexandria 20, Ramsay 17. Officials: Kelley, Driver, Anthony.

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