E.A. Sports Today

Golden class

State-champion Jacksonville seniors celebrate senior night with victory over rival Alexandria, eye bigger games to come; Piedmont rallies past rival Cherokee County for 20th win, and more

Jacksonville 68, Alexandria 47
Ashville 50, Cedar Bluff 48
Clay Central 57, Saks 33
Gaston 67, Jacksonville Christian 60
Gaylesville at Donoho
Hokes Bluff 81, Sand Rock 77
Horseshoe Bend 60, Winterboro 54
Ohatchee 65, Pleasant Valley 47
Pell City 65, Lincoln 52
Piedmont 70, Cherokee County 66
Spring Garden 62, Handley 57
Wellborn at Munford
West End at Ragland

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville’s state-champion seniors have big games yet to play in Van Deerman Gymnasium, including an area tournament and possible sub-regional, but they could find worse ways to make senior night.

“This one’s pretty special,” all-state guard and South Alabama signee John Broom said. “I’d say, we beat our rivals by 21, got a good crowd everywhere, just the whole game.”

Broom scored 25 points and classmate Caden Johnson 24 to lead Jacksonville past Alexandria 68-47 on Thursday.

Broom, twins Caden Johnson and Cam Johnson, Ethan Duke and Dee Protho lined up on the court for senior night before the game. Broom, the twins and Duke were part of Jacksonville’s 2022 Class 4A state championship, the school’s first state champion in boys’ basketball.

Prothro moved in from Cleburne County.

There was only one way for the group to approach their final regular-season home game.

“I just came out with a killer mentality again,” Caden Johnson said.

It showed early. He took advantage of a physical mismatch with shorter Alexandria guard Evan Snow, scoring 11 first-quarter points to help Jacksonville get out to a 16-2 lead and 20-8 edge going into the second quarter.

Caden Johnson’s big start included a dunk with an assist from Cam Johnson to make it 9-2, and Jacksonville took advantage of seven Alexandria turnovers in the first quarter.

“We hurt ourselves coming out,” Alexandria coach Will Ginn said. “We just had too many turnovers and gave them just free stuff, and they don’t need free stuff. They’re good without stuff given to them.”

Led by T.K. Downie’s 17 points, Alexandria began to find footing in the second quarter, closing to within 10 points twice. Two Kory Cargal free throws cut Jacksonville’s edge to 38-30 at 5:11 of the third, and a Downie bucket in the lane cut it to eight one more time, 42-34.

Jacksonville turned to Broom, who hit two free throws, a 3-pointer and a driving bucket back-to-back-to-back to make it 49-36 and launch an 14-4 run to take control.

“I was proud of our guys,” Ginn said. “We fought. That’s a good team, so we had to play a good game to beat them. We didn’t probably play our best game, but we played hard.”

Broom scored 16 of his points in the second half and had four assists. Caden Johnson tacked nine rebounds, four assists and four steals onto his 24-point performance.

They led the way on the night to celebrate their class.

“They’re one of the best groups to come through Jacksonville,” said first-year boys’ head coach Tres Buzan, Jacksonville’s third coach in three years. “They showed that tonight.

“They’re not just good basketball players. They’re good people, good men, and we couldn’t be prouder of them.”

ALEXANDRIA – T.K. Downie 7-12 3-4 18, Kory Cargal 2-4 8-8 12, Antonio Ross 2-7 1-2 5, Drake Davis 1-7 2-2 4, Evan Snow 2-6 0-1 4, Quendavion McDowell 1-5 1-3 3, Cleat Forrest 0-0 1-2 1, Jaylen Henderson 0-1 0-0 0. Total 15-42 16-22 47.
JACKSONVILLE – Caden Johnson 9-15 6-6 24, John Broom 10-16 2-2 25, Cam Johnson 3-10 0-0 6, Devin Barksdale 2-8 0-0 5, Dee Prothro 1-1 0-0 2, Damonte Sinclair 1-1 0-0 2, Ethan Duke 1-4 0-0 2, Jaquan Ervin 0-4 0-0 0, Kydric Fisher 1-4 0-0 2, Imoree Young 0-1 0-0 0. Total 28-64 8-8 68.

Alexandria815159 –47
Jacksonville20161517 –68

3-point goals: Alexandria 1-8 (Downie 1-1, Cargal 0-1, Davis 0-4, Snow 0-1, Henderson 0-1); Jacksonville 4-17 (Boom 3-7, Cam Johnson 0-3, Barksdale 1-5, Fisher 0-1, Ervin 0-1). Rebounds: Alexandria 39 (Downie 2, Cargal 6, Ross 11, Davis 3, Snow 3, McDowell 9, team 5); Jacksonville 31 (Broom 2, Cd. Johnson 9, Cam Johnson 3, Prothro 6, Duke 4, Sinclair 1, Fisher 1, Ervin 1, team 4). Total fouls: Alexandria 11, Jacksonville 20. Technical fouls: Broom, Alexandria bench.

PIEDMONT 70, CHEROKEE COUNTY 66: Some nights, Piedmont senior point guard Alex Odam’s role is to dish the ball off to his teammates when they’re shooting well. Other nights, he has to pour in the points himself.

The Jacksonville State signee scored 44 points, including nine in the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs outscored their visitors 17-6 to rally from a seven-point deficit and reach 20 wins for the fourth time in five years. He hit 17 of Piedmont’s 28 field goals and took all 13 of its free throws (hitting 10). 

“It was just one of those nights I felt I was going to have to score a pretty good amount to win. I knew we needed it,” Odam said. “Some nights I don’t have to.”

The Bulldogs (20-5) trailed by 13 at one point in the third quarter, but Odam almost erased that deficit by himself. He scored all 16 of Piedmont’s points in the third, trimming the Warrior lead to 60-53 heading into the final quarter. 

The Warriors (12-12) led 66-59 with 5:41 remaining in the game on a basket by Landon Caldwell, but the Bulldogs proved to have one last scoring surge in them.

They tied the game at 66 on Cole Wilson’s 3-pointer with 2:50 to go, then took the lead for good 68-66 on an Odam basket with 1:27 remaining. Wilson hit three 3s for the Bulldogs and finished with 11 points.

“That was a big three,” Piedmont coach JoJo Odam said. “He’s knocked down a lot of big threes for us this year. He’s got ice in his veins. Like the other night (at White Plains), the game was on the line and he buries it. He just shoots it so well. Everybody’s got confidence in him.”

“It says a lot about our team; we never really quit,” Alex Odam said. “Last night (a 72-61 loss to Fort Payne), we were kind of put in the same situation. We got down by a little bit, but we never really could get over that hump. It was kind of rejuvenating to pull this one out.”

The Piedmont victory spoiled a milestone night for Cherokee County’s Jack Amos. The senior guard scored 26 points and went over the 1,000-point mark along the way.

“I want to thank my coach and my teammates. If wasn’t for them this wouldn’t be possible,” Amos said. “It didn’t go the way I wanted it to, but I’m still happy. Not a lot of people can say they scored 1,000 points in basketball. I’m happy about it.”

The Warriors had their chances down the stretch to tie or regain the lead, with the last coming with 10.9 seconds to go.

From the scorers’ table at mid-court, Cade Hopper in-bounded the ball to Malachi Horton, who tossed a pass to Jaden Wilson underneath the basket. The pass sailed off Jaden Wilson’s hand, which was then stolen by Wilson, who was fouled with 3.6 seconds remaining.

Wilson then in-bounded the to Odam, who was fouled and sent to the free-throw line with 0.2 seconds left on the clock. Odam made both shots for the final.

“They had a better fourth quarter than us,” Cherokee County coach Caleb Hays said. “We played really well the whole game, even in the fourth. I didn’t think we played terrible. It’s just Alex hit a lot of shots. I know he didn’t miss many. We gave up some opportunities and made some bad decisions that kind of cost us a little bit, but all the credit to them. Alex played great. I don’t know how people stop him.” – Shannon Fagan, WEIS Radio

CHEROKEE COUNTY – Jack Amos 9 1-1 26, Malachi Horton 2 0-0 4, Cade Hopper 1 0-0 3, Jacob Cornejo 3 2-2 9, Jaden Wilson 5 0-1 10, Landon Caldwell 5 2-2 12, Eli Martin 1 0-0 2. Total 26 5-6 66.
PIEDMONT – Alex Odam 17 10-13 44, Rollie Pinto 2 0-0 4, Ishmael Bethel2 0-0 5, Luke Rhinehart 1 0-0 2, Chance Murphy 2 0-0 4, Cole Wilson 4 0-0 11. Total 28 10-13 70.

Cherokee County1924176 –66
Piedmont21161617 –70

3-point goals: Cherokee County 9 (Amos 7, Hopper, Cornejo), Piedmont 4 (Wilson 3, Bethel) Total fouls: Cherokee County 11, Piedmont 7.

GASTON 67, JACKONVILLE CHRISTIAN 60: JCA’s Ethan Fair scored 18 points to go with four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Braxton Brown had 11 points and seven rebounds, and Tyler Doggrell grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds to go with five points. Noah Lee had eight rebounds to go with his four points.

OHATCHEE 65, PLEASANT VALLEY 47: Colby Hester scored eight of his 16 points in the second quarter and Jake Roberson had 11 of his 21 in the third as the Indians pulled away. Jesse Gannaway led PV with 22 points.

PLEASANT VALLEY – Jaden Sparks 2 0-0 4, Jesse Gannaway 9 0-0 22, Hunter Sparks 3 3-6 9, Jayden Veazey 1 0-0 2, Bryce Freeman 1 0-0 2, Kolby Battles 1 0-0 2, Braxton Williams 0 0-0 0, Kyle Smith 2 0-0 6. Totals 19 3-6 47.

OHATCHEE – Eli Teem 1 0-0 2, Jake Roberts 2 0-0 4, Jesse Baswell 2 1-2 5, Alston Carroll 1 0-0 2, Colby Hester 7 2-6 16, Jake Roberson 9 0-2 21, Luke Vinson 3 1-3 7, Kelbe Crook 3 2-4 8, Tripp Pesnell 0 0-0 0. Totals 28 6-17 65.

Pleasant Valley12101114 –47
Ohatchee14182211 – 65

3-point goals: Pleasant Valley 6 (Gannaway 4, Smith 2); Ohatchee 3 (Roberson 3). Fouled out: Williams. Total fouls: Pleasant Valley 16, Ohatchee 12. Officials: Mallicoat, Gilbert, Hanson.

Cover photo: Jacksonville’s senior players and manager line up for senior-night activities before the Golden Eagles’ victory over Alexandria on Thursday. (Photo by Joe Medley)

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