Hartselle girls, Brewer boys take Morgan County titles
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle High School placed three teams in the winner's circle in the Morgan County Basketball Tournament. The annual event concluded Saturday night at Brewer High's Randolph Ryan Gymnasium.
The Lady Tigers emerged as the winner over Brewer's Lady Patriots in the girls varsity final, the B-team Tigers prevailed over West Morgan and the Freshmen Tigers edged Brewer.
In the other two divisions, the Brewer Patriots gunned down West Morgan's Rebels and the B-Team Lady Patriots slipped by Hartselle.
The Lady Tigers (20-5 overall and ranked second in the state in Class 5A) captured top honors in their third tournament this season by knocking out the Lady Patriots 69-52. Earlier, they won championships in the Thanksgiving Homewood Classic and Decatur's River City Christmas Classic.
"We knew they have good outside shooters and we would have to contest every shot they took," Lady Tigers coach Greg Adams said. "I thought our players did a pretty good job of doing that. We also knew we needed to establish our inside game early and we were able to do that.
"This is a big win for us. It's the third time we've played this season and we split the first two games. Hopefully, this will give our players a boost as they wrap up the regular season against three tough opponents."
"It feels really good to win the county tournament," Hartselle post player Mary Virginia Reeves said. "We had confidence coming in because we felt like we could slow down their perimeter game and work the ball inside and score against their defense. They beat us in the finals the last two years and we wanted to return the favor."
The Lady Tigers jumped out to a 9-2 lead with three minutes gone in the first period and never trailed. They were ahead 18-9 after one period, 31-17 at halftime and 52-26 after three quarters.
Four players scored in double figures. Shan Jones led with 22 points, Mary Virginia Reeves and Lauren Drake each had 17 and Anna Reeves added 11.
Brewer (15-11) was paced by Andrea Crawford who scored 22 points. Nichole Hayes followed with 19 points.
The Patriots won their third county tournament title in a row by getting by West Morgan's Rebels 49-42 in a hard-fought defensive battle.
The Rebels scored the first basket and held a one-point lead twice in the second quarter before the Pats took charge. The score after the first period was 7-6 in Brewer's favor. The Pats also were ahead 20-14 at halftime and 30-26 after three periods.
"West Morgan did a good job against us defensively," Brewer coach Sam Brown said. "We're averaging between 60 and 70 points a game. Fortunately, we were able to get the ball inside and get some shots down late in the game.
"These kids have a good work ethic and love to play the game. They're playing good ball at the right time of the year."
Matt Nielsen scored 26 points to lead the Pats on offense.
West Morgan's top scorer was Micah Randolph with 17 points.
In the boys B-team championship game Hartselle held on at the end to defeat West Morgan 36-29. It was its third straight county tournament title and fifth in the last six years.
West Morgan was ahead 7-4 after one period, 14-13 at halftime and the score was tied at 23-all after three quarters. Hartselle hit four of four free throw attempts in the last 30 seconds to seal the victory.
"We slowed down the game after we got a three-point lead in the fourth quarter and made them foul us," Hartselle coach Gary Orr said. "Our being able to hit the free throws was the difference in the game.
"This is a good group of kids. They love the game and they play hard and tough defensively. You have to give credit to West Morgan, however, because they played hard and gave us a good fight."
In the girls B-team title game Brewer defeated Hartselle 56-47 with a strong defense and some timely shooting from three-point range.
The Lady Patriots were ahead 22-16 after one period, 32-26 at halftime and 48-33 after three quarters.
"I'm proud of this team," said Brewer coach Derrick Garrison. "They finished the season with a 20-3 record and the school's fourth straight girls B-team championship. I'll sleep easy tonight."
"This was not an easy game," he added. "We had two players foul out in the final period and I was a little worried because we only have eight on our roster."
"Give credit to Hartselle," he said. "They have a great coach and a good team."
Rodney Stansberry and Luke Bole each made a key basket in the last minute of play to give Hartselle the push it needed to get by Brewer in the freshman boys championship game, 26-22, on Friday night.
In that contest, Hartselle was ahead 13-9 after one period, 19-12 at halftime and 22-17 after three periods. After the Rebels tied the score at 22-all with 2:10 left in the game, Hartselle regained the lead and sealed the win with back to back baskets by Stansberry and Bole.
"This is probably the best group of players we've had over the past six years I've been coach," Hartselle coach Keith Wright said. "We're looking for big things form them in the future."
"I'm proud of our kids. They had a 19-3 season," Brewer coach Doug Oldacre said. "It came down to who was going to get the shots to fall at the end."