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Hartselle advances to Northwest Regional with 75-53 win over Columbia

HARTSELLE – It was a night of milestones for the Tigers’ basketball team in their 75-53 victory over Columbia on Tuesday night.

The win gives Hartselle a berth in the Northwest Regional Tournament at Wallace State. It is the Tiger’s first trip to Hanceville since 2003. The last time they were there, they won two games and advanced to the 5A Final Four.

“This is unreal,” said Hartselle coach Faron Key. “Most of our kids weren’t even born the last time a Tiger basketball team played in a Regional tournament.”

Hartselle (26-6) got 35 points from Brody Peebles and a career-high 22 from Trent Wright.

“Trent played tremendous tonight. He was the key early on as the Columbia defense focused on Brody and Tad Sivley,” said Key. “In 2003, Trent’s father Keith was an assistant coach for the Tigers. Now, 17 years later, Trent gets an opportunity to play in a regional tournament.”

Wright scored 16 of his 22 in the first half to lead the Tigers.

“I was given an opportunity with the way Columbia played Brody and Tad,” said Wright. “My teammates made this possible and I can’t thank them enough.”

The Tigers led 18-12 after the first quarter and 35-23 at halftime.

Another milestone was reached early in the game as Peebles scored his 2,000th point. With the Tigers leading 14-12, he hit a one-handed floater from the left baseline for his first points of the game and the 2,000th point in his career.

“It is awesome to reach this milestone,” said Peebles. “It feels good to see my hard work to pay off. Credit goes to my team for helping me get here. I want to thank God for allowing me to play this sport.”

Hartselle continued to pull away from Columbia as they outscored the Eagles 23-9 to extend their lead to 58-32 heading into the fourth. Peebles scored 18 of his game-high 35 points to lead the Tigers in the quarter.

The Tigers continued to put distance between them and Columbia as they pushed their lead out to 29 points at 66-37 early in the fourth quarter.

Key and his team had a couple of emotional moments during the final minute of the game.

The first came when he substituted for his son Kiah with about a minute to go. The two shared a hug that won’t soon be forgotten in the Key house.

“Kiah wanted to do his part in helping us win tonight,” said Key. “We made a great memory tonight!”

Then with about 30 seconds to go, Key substituted for Peebles and Sivley. This was the final time that Sivley would walk off the Hartselle floor. The crowd gave a standing ovation as they left the floor.

“That was a magical moment for me as I got to step off the floor for the final time as a Tiger,” Sivley said. “It was an epic ending for our coaches and team. We have worked so hard to reach the regional and it has finally happened. This is a mission come true!”

Sivley finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists for the Tigers. Fellow senior Jackson Raley dished out seven assists in his final home game. Key added five points, and Luke Ward pulled down six rebounds.

Hartselle advances to face Minor, defeated Hueytown 91-75, in the Northwest Regional semi-finals.