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Hartselle holds on to title

By Staff
Todd Thompson, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle dodged a bullet.
At least four bullets, actually.
West Morgan missed four free throws in the final six seconds as Hartselle escaped with a 54-52 victory in the boys’ varsity championship in the Morgan County Basketball Tournament Saturday at the J.C. Pettey Center.
Hartselle, who entered the tournament as a fourth seed, won three games in six days to claim the varsity boys’ title.
Hartselle reached the championship game with an emotional victory over Brewer in the semifinals, the Tigers’ first win over Brewer in four meetings this season.
The Tigers picked up the championship trophy - their second straight Morgan County championship - after coming out on top in a game that featured 12 lead changes over 32 minutes of basketball.
Berry has led the Tigers to four county championships since 2001. Hartselle now has 13 boys’ varsity titles since the tournament started in 1950.
Stansberry finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds on his way to the tournament’s most valuable player honors.
Stansberry scored 47 points in the tournament after going six for 10 from the field in the championship against the Rebels.
Jeremy Roper added 15 points and Manquez Jones had 10 before fouling out with 2:18 remaining.
Wesley Clemons picked up five steals for the Tigers.
David Pritchard scored a team-high 14 points for West Morgan. He also finished with eight rebounds.
Jeremiah Victorino added eight points in the loss.
The Tigers struggled to put the ball in the basket, finishing the night without a single 3-pointer.
Hartselle finished 19-for-61 shooting in the win. West Morgan wasn’t much better, making just 20 of 45 attempts from the field.
But Hartselle overcame its shooting woes with a solid body of work in the county tournament over the past four years. The Tigers’ senior class continued their remarkable success in the county tournament. In four years, the current seniors have gone unbeaten in the tournament.
Hartselle led 14-4 early after Stansberry opened up the game by scoring the Tigers’ first seven points, but West Morgan climbed right back into the game by scoring 11 straight points.
After the quick start by the Tigers, neither team was able to pull away with a big run for the rest of the game.
West Morgan had several chances to win the game in the closing seconds. With Hartselle leading 53-52, the Rebels missed both ends of a pair of two-shot foul situations.
The Rebels’ David Pritchard hit a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left to cut Hartselle’s lead to just one. West Morgan never got any closer.
Alex Brown added a free throw with one second remaining to cap the scoring.
Hartselle scored just five points in the second quarter to allow West Morgan to climb back into the game. The Tigers, who improved to 15-12 overall, trailed 21-19 at the half after Josh McAbee ended the second quarter with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Hartselle appeared to have put its name on the championship trophy when Manquez Jones hit two free throws with 28 seconds remaining to give the Tigers a 53-49 advantage.
But Pritchard nailed the clutch 3-pointer just nine seconds later to leave West Morgan a late chance to win the game.
And even after missing both ends of a two-shot foul situation, the Rebels had another chance to win the game or at least force overtime.
West Morgan fans could only watch in horror as the Rebels
were off the mark on two more free throw attempts down the stretch.

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