Brewer wins first area title since '72
Lindsay Vaught, Enquirer correspondent
Thirty-two years is a long time to wait between championships. For the Brewer basketball team, the long wait is over. The Patriots traveled to Huntsville High and came away with a 56-55 win over the Huntsville Panthers Monday night to clam the Area 14 title. Brewer knocked Arab out of the tournament on Saturday night.
For years the knock on Brewer basketball was they could not come across the river and win. This season Brewer is 6-1 in games in Huntsville and now the Patriots will host Butler Friday night with the winner advancing to regional tournament in Hanceville.
"We had more weapons than they had," said Brewer coach Sam Brown. "Huntsville had one or two things that they were trying to do. We got more than one or two weapons. We can beat teams more than one or two ways. That is what makes us special."
"We are going to go to work tomorrow to get ready for the next one. It's never too late to get better. We got to get better rebounding the ball. There was too many loose balls under the goal tonight that we didn't get," Brown added.
In the third quarter, senior Austin Mooney hit three threepointers as Brewer extended a two-point halftime lead to three going into the fourth quarter.
The Panthers closed within two points at 53-51 but Brewer's Travis Boyd had two key rebounds to save possessions. With the game tied at 55, Brewer went to Matt Neilson for the winning shot. He missed but got the ball back and was fouled. He hit the first of two free throws.
"I was upset with myself because I've hit clutch shots before. I knew if I missed my teammates would be the rebound," Neilson said.
"This is a big win but there will be more. We just got to get ready for Friday. We had a great crowd here tonight. That means a lot to us."
With 1.9 seconds left, Boyd intercepted an inbounds pass as Huntsville's Careg Bonner was poised to get off the winning shot.
Boyd held Bonner to nine points, well under his season average of 19.6.
Mooney led Brewer with 23 points. Neilson had 10 and Boyd nine. Brewer's record is now 22-8.
"Our kids were confident we could get the win. We led Huntsville 60 of the 64 minutes in the two games we played them this season.
"They got some good players and Bonner is tough to guard. Mooney had a big game for us. He is a good shooter and we have to get him the ball and we did a good job of getting him the ball. Huntsville got some offensive rebounds to get back in the game," Brown said.
"I'm looking forward to the next couple of years, but we're not looking past the next few games," said sophomore Rusty Boyd.
"We want to go ahead and get a state championship for the seniors like Travis and Austin."
"We didn't come this far to not continue on," Brown said.
"This time of year it's a one game season and you got to play well now matter who you play."
The Brewer Patriots advanced to the finals of the 5A, Area 14 tournament behind the one-two scoring punch of Matt Nielsen and Austin Mooney.
Nielsen poured in a game-high 29 points, while Mooney added 22 more.
Matt Cobbs, Travis Boyd and Rusty Boyd all added four points each, while Alex Brown scored two.
Brewer improved to 21-8 heading into sub-regional play.