E.A. Sports Today

Next-level win

Pleasant Valley beats Woodland to earn first boys subregion berth since 2003, boys and girls will play host Ranburne for area titles Thursday; will be updated

Girls Game

Pleasant Valley 44, Woodland 35
Boys Game
Pleasant Valley 51, Woodland 43
Thursday’s Games
Girls championship: Pleasant Valley vs. Ranburne, 5 p.m.
Boys championship: Pleasant Valley vs. Ranburne, 6:30 p.m.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

RANBURNE — Brad Hood had it all planned out. He was going to write a big ‘20’ on his coach’s clipboard and when his Pleasant Valley boys basketball team finished off its playoff victory he was going to split that clipboard over his knee symbolizing the breaking of a decades long drought. 

That was the plan — even last year — but turns out he didn’t do it.

It wasn’t because the Raiders didn’t pull it off their most significant victory in years — oh, they did, in a big way — but now he’s saving the theatrics for an even more special occasion later in the week.

The Raiders did end what Hood called “20 years of purgatory” Tuesday night by pulling away late to beat Woodland 51-43 in the Class 2A Area 9 boys semifinals at Ranburne.

It was significant because in a three-team area — the only three-team area in 2A — the victory assured them a spot in the subregion round for the first time since 2003. 

They will play Ranburne Thursday for the area tournament championship and even more clipboard-breaking history – winning an area title and hosting a subregion game for the first time since 2000. 

“I thought the pressure would be too much because they knew the scale of the game,” Hood said. “The seven-footer (Woodland’s Christian Beam) made it tough because we had to rely on the perimeter, we had to rely on outside shots and defense, which sometimes you can’t count on, and we went dry there at the end of the third/(beginning of the) fourth quarter, then all of a sudden (Kyle) Smith goes bang-bang and gave us that breathing room we needed.”

Obviously, none of the players on the current team were around when the Raiders last made the subregion round or even won an area tournament title; Kolby Battles is their only senior. Heck, was still a Jacksonville State student in those years but was helping then-coach Shane Sanderson on the PV staff.

“It means a lot to me that I got to be on this team and contribute to winning,” Battles said. “It’s been 20 years since this has happened and I got to be a part of it.”

So how did they celebrate breaking the curse? They dropped to the floor of their dressing room and pumped out five push-ups.

The Raiders spent most of the night trying to avoid the towering Beam and their best way to do that was by attacking from the outside.

While they didn’t shoot it well early in the game, they nailed the 3s when they counted. Jesse Gannaway’s four-point play from the left corner with 1:05 left in the third quarter put them up 38-31. Woodland brought it back to 38-37, then Smith buried back-to-back 3s and made the outlet pass for Jaden Sparks’ run out with 2:07 to go and give the Raiders control of their destiny. 

Gannaway hit five 3-pointers in the game and finished with 22 points. Smith hit four 3s and had 16. Beam led Woodland with 21.

“I wasn’t shooting great but then something just clicked and I just hit them back-to-back,” Smith said. “I wasn’t thinking about it, I was just playing my game.”

The Raiders closed out the game by dribbling off a big chunk of the clock and then hitting five free throws in the final minute.

“For these kids, this year, to get to experience an area championship, a subregion game, whether we travel of we host or who knows we pull it out Thursday and we host somebody that has to travel an hour-15-20 minutes to our place and we somehow play a perfect game and go to Jax State amidst all the adversity and youth and inexperience, for the mindset and mentality of this whole group that would take us to the next level,” Hood said. “That win right there’s already gotten our program to the next level for the future.”

WOODLAND – Callen Gay 1 0-0 2, Malakai Drummond 1 0-0 2, Braden Taylor 1 0-0 3, Keyan Moultry 5 2-2 13, Noah Waites 0 0-0 0, Levi Screws 0 0-0 0, Brodie Collins 1 0-0 2, Christian Beam 7 6-10 21. Totals 16 8-12 43.
PLEASANT VALLEY – Jaden Sparks 1 2-5 4, Jesse Gannaway 7 3-3 22, Hunter Sparks 2 0-0 4, Bryce Freeman 0 0-0 0, Kolby Battles 2 0-1 4, Braxton Williams 0 1-2 1, Kyle Smith 5 2-2 16. Totals 17 8-13 51.

Woodland1391110 – 43
Pleasant Valley11161113 – 51

3-point goals: Woodland 3 (Taylor, Moultry, Beam); Pleasant Valley 9 (Gannaway 5, Smith 4). Total fouls: Woodland 17, Pleasant Valley 13.

PLEASANT VALLEY 44, WOODLAND 35: Macey Roper scored 15 points, Rebekah Gannaway had 14 and the Lady Raiders opened a big lead before substituting liberally in the fourth quarter. Roper had 12 of her points in the first half and Gannaway had nine as PV opened a 31-9 lead.

Saylein Morrison 1 0-0 2, Kaylie Simpson 0 1-2 1, Macey Slick 3 0-0 9, Juliana Lovvorn 3 4-6 10, Mkiya Knight 2 1-2 5, McKenzie McCormick 2 0-2 4, Alex Raughton 1 0-0 2, Maddie Fordham 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 6-12 35.
PLEASANT VALLEY – Macey Roper 7 1-2 15, Rebekah Gannaway 6 1-7 14, Kianna Hester 1 0-0 3, Laney Robinson 1 2-4 4, Lilly Robinson 0 1-2 1, Haylie Lee 1 1-3 3, Ella Kate Parris 2 0-0 4, Abby Parris 0 0-0 0, Bailey Brown 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 6-18 44.

Woodland54719 – 35
Pleasant Valley181385 – 44

3-point goals: Woodland 3 (Slick 3); Pleasant Valley 2 (Gannaway, Hester). Fouled out: Slick. Total fouls: Woodland 12, Pleasant Valley 11.

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