E.A. Sports Today

Not this Garden

Spring Garden boys hold Appalachian to 23.9-percent shooting en route to rout in Class 1A Northeast Regional semifinal.

Spring Garden’s John Welsh shoots on the way to a 23-point performance during Wednesday’s Class 1A Northeast Regional semifinal against Appalachian in Pete Mathews Coliseum. (Photo by Joe Medley)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — A name like Spring Garden suggests fertile ground, but the Panthers didn’t let much grow Wednesday.

They held Appalachian to 1-for-11 shooting in the pivotal third quarter, three single-digit quarters and nine second-half points en route to a 60-30 victory in their Class 1A Northeast Regional semifinal in Pete Mathews Coliseum.

Third-ranked Spring Garden (27-4) advanced to Monday’s 4:45 p.m. championship game against the Skyline-Faith Christian winner.

In their 12th Northeast Regional appearance, the Panthers hope to secure their first Final Four berth since 2019. They seek their third Northeast Regional title and first state title in boys’ basketball.

John Welsh paced the Panthers on Wednesday with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Connor Bates added 12 points with seven boards, and Jake Welsh fetched 11 rebounds to go with five points.

Spring Garden held Appalachian to 23.9 percent shooting (11-for-46).

There’s a name for Spring Garden’s brand of defense.

“It’s not a man-to-man defense,” Spring Garden coach Levi Hatcher said. “It’s a man-versus-men defense, in a way.”

It’s about aggression, going for the ball, and help.

“We want to force a certain way,” Hatcher said. “We want to do this, depending upon who we’re playing, but you have to trust that you’ve got everybody rotating behind you.

“If one person misses that rotation, then the next guy may not want to rotate. All across the board, the whole night, we rotated really well.”

Appalachian was 0-for-15 on 3-point shots, 0-for-10 in the second half. Spring Garden pulled away after leading 25-21 at halftime.

Lots of missed shots led to 26 defensive rebounds and 41 rebounds overall for Spring Garden.

“All year, our defense has been scrappy, tough,” John Welsh said. “We get after it.”

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