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Bulldogs rout Ranburne to stamp ticket to Final Four

By Staff
Web users! – Check Features during the week for timely coverage of the Bulldogs' trip to the Final Four and quest toward a state championship.
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
JACKSONVILLE – In the first scoring play of Priceville's game against Ranburne Friday night, guard Josh Bedwell dribbled into the paint and was triple-teamed by the Ranburne defense. Bedwell then found K.C. Green wide open underneath the basket for an easy lay-up, and the Bulldogs were on their way to a regional championship.
Two nights after setting a new AHSAA record for scoring at a Class 2A regional, Bedwell scored 37 points Friday night as Priceville advanced to the Final Four in impressive fashion, knocking off Ranburne 91-62 at Pete Mathews Coliseum.
"We ran into a buzzsaw," Ranburne coach Tim Ward said. "I was up here Wednesday night and watched them play White Plains and I told our guys I didn't think they could shoot like that two games in a row, but they did.
"I've never seen a team on a roll like they are right now. It's unbelievable."
Priceville's game Friday night was a mirror image of its 81-61 win over White Plains Wednesday, as the Bulldogs opened up a commanding 43-26 lead at halftime and used their hot shooting to hold off any Ranburne attempts to rally. Priceville shot 59.3 percent for the game (32-of-54 from the field) while Ranburne was just 39.3 percent (22-of-56).
Since falling to Danville 73-66 in double overtime in its last game of the regular season, Priceville has won five in a row and defeated both its Northeast Regional opponents by at least 20 points.
"Since the start of the area tournament, we've just stepped it up a little each game," Priceville coach Darrell Haynes said. "The season's been a lot of ups and downs – we'd play well for a couple of games and then we'd play bad for a couple – but here at the end the guys have really focused and they've played hard every time out."
The Bulldogs leapt out to a 9-0 lead in the first quarter before Ranburne battled back with eight unanswered points. Priceville led 17-11 at the end of the first eight minutes but then exploded in the second quarter, outscoring Ranburne 26-15 in that time frame.
Priceville knocked down four three-pointers in the second quarter, including one by Bedwell with 3.4 seconds remaining in the first half. For the game, Priceville shot 13-of-24 from behind the three-point line.
Ranburne tried to get back in the game by shooting three-pointers, finishing 12-of-36 from behind the line and attempting more three pointers than two-point field goals (20). Priceville's Stephen Hardiman and the Bulldogs' other post players took advantage of Ranburne's perimeter-oriented offense to collect rebounds off Ranburne misses and convert them into fast-break opportunities and easy baskets for Priceville. Priceville outrebounded Ranburne 37-26.
"They didn't crash the boards as much as I thought they would," said Hardiman, who finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. "The ball was just coming down to me and I was ripping it down. That's what I'm here for, anyway."
Priceville entered the fourth quarter with a 66-49 lead and continued to play hard in that final frame, outscoring Ranburne 25-13 over the last eight minutes of the game.
Ranburne's Matt Smith had 21 points to lead his team in scoring, followed by Chase Whitley with 20 and Chase Smith with 12. Ranburne ended its season with a 20-8 record while Priceville improved to 21-11.
Priceville faced Southwest Regional champion R.C. Hatch Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. Results of that game were not available at press time.