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Priceville’s Chris Thomas scores inside for the Bulldogs in the Northeast Regional at Jacksonville State. Special to the Enquirer/Greg Warren

Priceville basketball’s season ends in Northeast Regional Semifinals

The season ended for both the Priceville boys and girls Saturday with losses to Handley in the Northeast Regional at Jacksonville State, a blow to overall winning seasons for the Bulldog teams.

BOYS

Handley 61, Priceville 50

The Priceville boys, playing in their first regional since 2017, dropped a 61-50 decision to Handley.

“I’m just really proud of these young men and all they accomplished this season,” said Priceville Coach JR Dilbeck. “Back in the spring, we talked about deserving to win before we could expect to win. We used the Herb Brooks motto: ‘Common men go nowhere; you have to be uncommon,’ and these guys deserve all they accomplished.”

Priceville withstood the Handley pressure for much of the first half and led 10-8 with 1:43 left in the first. The Tigers then reeled off a 12-0 run to grab a 21-10 lead midway through the second quarter.

The Bulldogs answered with a 13-6 run to close the first half, trailing 27-23 at halftime.

In the third quarter, Handley outscored Priceville 22-18 to lead 49-41 heading to the fourth quarter.

The Tigers’ largest lead of the game was 16 with a couple of minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs were held to nine points in the final quarter.

Chris Thomas finished with 16 points, three rebounds, three blocks and two assists in his final game for Priceville (23-9). Senior Elijah Hopkins added 10 points, four rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Cole Lindeman scored nine, while freshman Sammy Holmes finished with six. Jake Langlois had six rebounds and four points.

Rondai Banks scored a game-high 24 points to lead Handley. Graham Martin finished with 18 points.

“Our goal was to make sure people never left a game early,” said Dilbeck. “We wanted to give them something to be proud of, and this team did that. I am so proud to see these seniors go out as winners.”

GIRLS

Handley 76, Priceville 59

Priceville’s Lauren Hames attempts to score against Handley Saturday in the Northeast Regional at Jacksonville State. Special to the Enquirer/Greg Warren

Priceville’s season ended with a 76-59 loss to Handley. The Lady Bulldogs were playing in their fourth regional in a row.

“The girls fought so hard to get back where we had been as Area champions and a return to the Sweet 16 at the Regional Tournament,” said Priceville head coach Terri Nelson. “They also added Morgan County Champions and an undefeated season at home to the resume.”

The Lady Bulldogs went cold to start the game, hitting two field goals and trailing 13-6 following the first quarter.

The Lady Tigers increased their lead to 34-19 at halftime.

In the third, Handley outscored Priceville 27-23 to lead 61-42 heading into the fourth quarter.

Sophomore Ashlyn Johnson finished with a career-high 26 points and four assists to lead Priceville (23-7). Junior Zoey Benson added 10 points, four rebounds and two blocks.

Teanna Watts finished with 24 points to lead Handley, while Takeriauna Mosley added 18 and Emilia Askew had 17.

The Lady Bulldogs lose seniors Olivia Gann, Kylie Hendrix and Natalie Cartee from this year’s team; however, Priceville will return more than 80 percent of its scoring and 70 percent of rebounding next season. The team’s top four scorers return and six of the top nine.

“We have a lot of young talent coming back, so the future is bright for Lady Bulldog basketball,” said Nelson. “Having this year with my sister and my daughter after my dad passed was so special to my family. I know he would be so proud of the heart of this team.”

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