E.A. Sports Today

Breaking the tie

Monday’s boys roundup: Winterboro holds off Donoho, appears to clinch the top seed in Class 1A Area 8 after JCA upsets Faith Christian; plus highlights from games reported to East Alabama Sports Today

Anniston 59, Alexandria 50
B.B. Comer 69, Thorsby 32
Gaylesville 61, Wellborn 51
Hokes Bluff 63, Southside 37
Jacksonville Christian 60, Faith Christian 55
Ohatchee 71, Coosa Christian 50
Saks at Cleburne County
Wadley 73, Ranburne 72
Westbrook 76, Pleasant Valley 48
Winterboro 69, Donoho 65

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WINTERBORO – Blake Hanson left the gym Monday night confident his Winterboro boys team did everything in its power to have a chance to win an area regular-season championship. The Bulldogs won’t know definitively until Tuesday morning’s area tournament meeting in Wadley, but they were feeling pretty good based on what they knew.

The news for the Bulldogs is likely to be favorable. They took care of their own business, beating Donoho 69-65, then anxiously awaited the outcome of the Faith Christian-Jacksonville Christian game in Anniston to settle a complicated set of tiebreakers to avoid a dreaded coin toss.

About an hour after their game ended, the Bulldogs learned JCA stunned the Lions to apparently give them the tiebreaker to host the Class 1A Area 8 boys tournament next week.

“I told them we’ll find out tomorrow morning at 10, that’s when we’ve got our meeting,” said Hanson, the Bulldogs’ first-year head coach. “I told them right now we’re tied for first, it’s out of our hands.

“We did everything we could to put us in this position. We came out hard and fought Friday (against Wadley), came out hard and fought tonight. Hope it falls in our favor.”

Both Winterboro and Faith finished 6-2 in the area. They split with each other during the season and had the same record against everyone else in the league.

The difference was a recently installed tiebreaker involving their winning percentage in non-area Class 1A games. The Bulldogs were 2-0, having beaten Talladega County Central twice, while Faith finished 3-1 in those games after Monday’s loss. The Lions would have won the top seed had they beaten JCA. 

“I feel like my boys deserve it, they came out and did everything they could,” Hanson said after learning the Faith-JCA score. “They played hard these last few games, did everything I’ve asked them to do, so they definitely deserve it,  so I’m glad we should be able to get the 1.

“Honestly, I think if we wouldn’t have played Donoho and Faith the very first week of games I think we’d have been the 1 anyways. Nothing against them, they’re great ball teams, but playing them at the very beginning after coming off of football and not really getting to be in the gym much, we weren’t clicking, we didn’t have it together, but now that we’ve put the pieces together we can play ball and I think we can play with anyone.”

The Bulldogs are glad for an even bigger reason. One of their seniors, Kaleb Merritt, suffered a stroke during the school day last Monday and ever since the incident the Bulldogs have dedicated their season to “do it for 3.”

Merritt has been recovering at Children’s of Alabama and has been progressing to the point he likely will return home Wednesday and be in attendance for Senior Night festivities Thursday against Horseshoe Bend.

“He’s going to be over the moon when I tell him we got the 1 seed,” Hanson said. “I’m excited to be able to tell him and I’m excited to be able to tell the guys.”

Monterious Williams, playing his first game out of a boot after injuring his left ankle Thursday, led the Bulldogs with 23 points and five rebounds. He hit three 3s in the middle of the first half and had 13 of their last 27 points of the half to help them take a 38-31 halftime lead.

Brandon Hunter had 18 points, Jamareo Clegg had 15 and Kaden Jones had 10. Clegg and 24 had eight rebounds apiece. 

Donoho could have finished as the No. 2 seed had they beaten Winterboro. The Falcons led briefly midway through the third quarter, but could never got control of the game and now will be the area’s No. 3.

“My biggest thing is if you’re trying to win, whoever you face you’ve just got to knock them out,” Donoho coach Korielle Beavers said. “It would’ve been nice against whatever team – I’m not sure all the rules, it’s too much for me to think about right now – but you play who you play, you’ve got to line up and go back at it.”

The Falcons scored the first nine points of the second half and took a 40-38 lead on Sam Johnson’s 3-ball with 5:37 left in the third quarter. Isiah Smith’s layup earned them a 44-44 tie later in the quarter, but Williams answered with a 3 and the Falcons never led again.

They did get within two twice in the final 25 seconds, but each time the Bulldogs answered with a pair of free throws to close it out.

Donoho’s Drew Williamson led all scorers with 27 points. Sam Johnson was hot in the first half, scoring 12 points and grabbing eight rebounds, and finished with 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting and 11 boards. Jordan Cameron had 10 points – all in the second half – nine rebounds and five assists.

DONOHO – Jordan Cameron 4-9 0-2 10, Isiah Smith 1-3 0-0 2, Rich Goad 1-6 0-2 2, Drew Williamson 10-21 4-5 27, Sean Keel 2-3 1-2 5, Cash Worley 0-0 0-0 0, Sam Johnson 9-12 1-1 19, Hayes Farrell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-54 6-12 65.
WINTERBORO – Monterious Williams 8 2-2 23, Brandon Hunter 5 8-9 18, Jamareo Clegg 6 3-3 15, Kaden Jones 3 2-6 10, Jemarion Clegg 1 0-0 2, Kylen Campbell 0 1-3 1, Kamareon Curry 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 16-23 69.

Donoho14171420 –65
Winterboro17211318 –69

3-point goals: Donoho 5-13 (Cameron 2-4, Goad 0-2, Williamson 3-7); Winterboro 7 (Williams 5, Jones 2). Rebounds: Donoho 33 (Johnson 11, Cameron 9); Winterboro 30 (Campbell 8, Ja. Clegg 8). Fouled out: Goad. Total fouls: Donoho 22, Winterboro 12. Officials: Baker, Douthitt, Smith.

JACKSONVILLE CHRISTIAN 60, FAITH CHRISTIAN 55: The Lions knew what they had to do to claim the top seed in Class 1A Area 8, but after a fast start they succumbed to too many missed layups and JCA’s hot shooting from the 3-point arc.

Braxton Brown hit six 3s and the Thunder hit 12 as a team. He hit four of them in the second quarter to help his team turn a 17-11 deficit into a 33-30 halftime lead.

“The first quarter was exactly what I thought it would be,” Faith coach Cory Hughes said. “We jumped out pretty good and figured it would track from there and it didn’t. They just started knocking down everything in the second quarter and we missed like 14 layups. The fourth quarter we missed another 14 layups. You won’t believe the shot chart, just ‘X’s in the entire paint.”

All the Lions had to do was win the non-area game and they’d have clinched the No. 1 seed in their area. They were down by three at halftime by the time Winterboro’s win over Donoho that tied it with Faith in the area standings went final.

“We always just have to do what we can do and see how the cards fall,” Hughes said. “I figured we would do that. We came out looking good and then I think we let their hot shooting get a hold of us.

“We knew where the game was at, we just didn’t do our part. Sometimes you need a black eye, maybe this is our black eye that will get us going, but it scares me we’re this inconsistent this late in the season.”

Both teams’ main scoring threats were held in relative check. The Lions locked down JCA’s Ethan Fair, but Brown went off for a game-high 22 points. Cam Moses and Noah Lee added 11 apiece.

Faith’s Thomas Curlee was held to 16 points. Yashi Arevalo led the Lions with 21.

Brown hit a pair of free throws with 32 seconds left to give the Thunder at six-point lead. Lee pushed the lead to eight with two more with 16 seconds to go. Faith hit a 3-point at the buzzer for the final margin.

JACKSONVILLE CHRISTIAN – Ethan Fair 2 2-4 6, Tyler Doggrell 3 0-0 6, Braxton Brown 7 2-3 22, Noah Lee 3 3-5 11, Jordan Garner 0 1-3 1, Cam Moses 4 0-0 11, Hunter Brown 1 0-0 3. Totals 20 8-15 60.
FAITH CHRISTIAN – Conner Richerzhagen 2 0-2 5, Tyler Bell 1 0-0 3, Eli Robinson 2 0-0 4, Yashua Arevalo 7 5-6 21, Thomas Curlee 7 0-0 16, Carson Harris 1 1-2 3, Parker Robertson 1 0-0 3. Totals 21 6-10 55.

JCA11221116 –60
Faith17131312 –55

3-point goals: JCA 12 (B. Brown 6, Lee 2, Moses 3, H. Brown); Faith 7 (Richerzhagen, Bell, Arevalo 2, Curlee 2, Robertson). Total fouls: JCA 11, Faith 17. Officials: Mallicoat, Royster, McCord.

OHATCHEE 71, COOSA CHRISTIAN 50: Jesse Baswell hit three 3-pointers while leading Ohatchee with 15 points, and Colby Hester hit two on the way to 10 points. Luke Vinson added 11 points for the Indians.

COOSA CHRISTIAN – Jadan Burns 1 2-2 5, Vincent Dupree 1 0-0 2, Grayson Malone 2 0-1 5, John David Justus 3 0-0 6, D.J. Mackey 5 0-0 10, Elijah Motes 1 0-0 2, Jacoby Tucker 8 4-10 20. Totals 21 6-13 50.
Ohatchee – Jacob Roberts 5 1-4 11, Jesse Baswell 5 2-4 15, Alston Carroll 3 1-2 8, Colby Hester 5 0-0 10, Jake Roberson 2 0-0 4, Luke Vinson 5 1-2 11, Kelbe Crook 4 4-5 12. Totals 29 10-17 71.

Coosa Christian1581413 –50
Ohatchee21112217 –71

3-point goals: Coosa Christian 2 (Burns, Malone), Ohatchee 6 (Baswell 3, Hester 2, Carroll). Total fouls: Coosa Christian 13, Ohatchee 17.

Cover photo: Winterboro’s Monterious Williams (1) launches a shot against the defense of Donoho’s Jordan Cameron and Drew Williamson (5).

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