Hanceville wins a thriller as time expires; Lady Bulldogs fall to no. 2 Lady Hornets

Johnny Thornton

HANCEVILLE – An almost heartbreaking loss became a thrilling victory for Hanceville when center R.J. Evans scored as time expired, giving the Bulldogs a 76-75 triumph over the Locust Fork Hornets Tuesday night at Lane Horton Gym.

Hanceville led throughout much of the game and seemed to have it locked up when the Bulldogs got free throws from Alex Campbell and were ahead 74-70 with 47 seconds remaining.

However, Locust Fork answered with two free throws and a 3-pointer and eased into the lead at 75-74 when the Bulldogs called timeout with 6.5 seconds left.

Setting up a play at half court, the Bulldogs got it to Evans who drove toward the goal, but missed a short range that hit the back of the rim. The 6'4" Evans got the rebound, releasing the ball before the horn sounded, with the official on the opposite side of the scorer's table ruling the shot was good.

Cue the Bulldog celebration.

Frustration overtook the crowd in the Locust Fork stands when an adult jumped out of the bleachers and headed toward the officials’ locker room with a plastic soft drink bottle in his right hand. The fan, who held the bottle in a manner suggesting he was thinking of throwing the object, came to his senses with the Hanceville Police Department not far away.

The game was part of senior recognition night in which Hanceville coach Daniel Wakefield started seniors C.J. White, Cameron Brockman and Cameron Barbee over regular starters Fred Ellis, Alex Campbell and Josh Stanley.

The seniors held their own, but it was junior guard Brendan Flanigan that stole the show for the first quarter, scoring on seven consecutive possessions and having 18 points by the end of the period. He ignited the Bulldogs to a 23-13 lead after the first.

Ellis was inserted into the game in the second and took over the scoring chores. He and Flanigan combined for 32 by the break as Hanceville had a 41-24 advantage.

But the game was far from over. Locust Fork got hot, hitting six shots from 3-point range in the third, and made a serious run. The Bulldogs were able to survive it and took a 55-47 lead into the fourth when Barbee scored on a running jumper inside the paint before time expired.

The wild fourth period was breathtaking, with Hanceville leading 60-51 at the 6:09 mark on free throws from Evans.

Then the Hornets started another run that got them over the hump and into the lead at 64-62 with 2:13 remaining.

Flanigan answered for the Bulldogs by driving to the basket and tying the game with 2:06 to play. A technical foul was called on Locust Fork for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Flanigan broke the deadlock, scoring twice from the line, and the Bulldogs were back in front at 66-64.

Hanceville hit their last six free throws and pushed the lead to four when the Bulldogs had two turnovers in the closing seconds that almost sealed their fate, with Locust Fork going on a 5-0 run in a span of 23 seconds. Bay Etheredge was 1-of-2 from the line to give the Hornets the lead at 75-74.

That set up the dramatic ending for Hanceville to execute, thanks to the size of Evans and his ability to follow up a missed shot and score right as the clock went to zero.

Hanceville finishes the month of January with seven wins in 10 games, going 3-1 at Lane Horton Gym in the process. Wakefield's squad pulled out a 70-65 win Monday night at Dora and had plenty of energy, with it being senior recognition night.

Flanigan ripped the cords for 29 points, Ellis scored 14, Evans added 10, Campbell tossed in eight, White and Barbee had four each.

For the Hornets, Daniel Goss scored 31, hitting a game high six treys with Etheredge adding 16. Locust Fork scored eight times from 3-point range in the second half and outscored the Bulldogs 51-35 in the second half after facing a 17-point deficit at the break.


Locust Fork 64, Hanceville 26 (Girls):

No. 2 ranked from Class 3A, Locust Fork, visited the town of Hanceville. The Lady Hornets are hoping to get back to the city in a couple of weeks when the AHSAA Northwest Regional takes place at Wallace State's Tom Drake Coliseum.

The Lady Hornets extended their winning streak to 16 games as they jumped to a 10-0 lead by the 4:30 mark and were ahead 14-6 when the quarter ended. A 21-5 second period enabled the Lady Hornets to gain a 35-11 lead at the half and be comfortably on top 54-22 following the third period.

Kimberly Horton scored 17 for the Lady Hornets while Madison Cater added 14 and Ashlyn Adkins tossed in six. Adkins has signed a scholarship to play at Wallace State next season.

Eighth-grader Jayden Thompson topped the Hanceville scoring with eight, Karmen Johnson six, Cassidy Campbell five, Lauren Roberson three and Desi Hackney and Malia Howell two each.

Following the game, Brooke Barnett and Hackney were honored as part of the school's senior recognition night.


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