Good Hope coach Drew Adams talking with his team during a timeout.
HARTSELLE – Good Hope had victory in its grasp twice on Thursday in the Hartselle's play day series. But the Raiders could not get over the hump as R.A. Hubbard claimed a 60-46 win, then Falkville had a second-half comeback that keyed the Blue Devils in a 50-44 triumph.
Good Hope is going into its second season under coach Drew Adams. The Raiders started strong last year, but a young team went through growing pains late in the season. They suffered a 45-44 heartbreaking loss to Dora in the 4A, Area 13 Tournament when the Bulldogs hit a three as time expired after the Raiders missed the front end of a one-and-one with four seconds left.
The Raiders return top scorer Kallen Sharpton, a junior, seniors Isaac McDonald and Mason Moniz plus juniors Matt Hancock and Landon Freeman. The backcourt will be young with sophomores Cole Maddox and his cousin Drew Maddox to factor in the mix. Both were on last year's county champion junior varsity team.
Seniors Blake Lyle from the guard position and forward Isaiah Lemus were not available for the trip to Hartselle.
Taking on a very good R.A. Hubbard squad from Class 1A, the Raiders were behind from the opening tip, but in a position to get the game tied or draw within two points.
Hubbard was ahead 12-4 after the first five and a half minutes. Then the Raiders used the scoring of Freeman and Cole Maddox that keyed a 16-8 run to narrow the deficit to 22-20 with 5:25 remaining in the period.
Good Hope then experienced a drought for the rest of the half with Hubbard extending the advantage to 28-20 at the half.
Cole Maddox had eight consecutive points on a field goal, a 3-point and a trey that kept Good Hope close at 42-37 with 7:50 to go.
Again, Hubbard got some breathing room with the Chiefs moving to a 50-42 lead with 4:20 to play. Two more baskets from Cole Maddox gave the Raiders a chance when they were down 52-46 with 2:25 showing on the clock.
This time the Chiefs took advantage of three Good Hope turnovers and completed an 8-0 run in the final 2:00 to spread the final margin to 14 points.
Cole Maddox tallied 16 in the first game of the day for the Raiders, followed by Sharpton with six, McDonald seven, Drew Maddox five; Hancock, Moniz and Michael Lowe had four each.
Things began better for the Raiders with Falkville. Five players got into the scoring column early and Good Hope gained a 13-5 lead at the 12:34 mark on a three from Cole Maddox.
A basket by Drew Maddox off an assist from McDonald propelled the Raiders to lead the Blue Devils 21-9 as the half ended.
Drew Maddox knocked down a jumper with 11:24 remaining to give the Raiders a 30-19 advantage. All of a sudden, Falkville found its shooting touch. The Blue Devils scored on six possessions in a span of five minutes, with five shots coming from downtown to go in front at 36-32. The Raiders didn't score for several minutes, the Falkville lead growing to 46-35 with three minutes left.
Good Hope scored three consecutive times as a basket by Cole Maddox had them trailing 46-41 with 25 seconds to play. Falkville converted four free throws in the final 19 seconds to put the game out of reach. A trey by Cole Maddox as time ran out put the final margin to 50-44.
Cole Maddox dropped in 13 in the game, Freeman netted 10, Lowe scored six, McDonald, Sharpton and Moniz four each. Hancock added three.
Of the 41 second-half points scored by Falkville, the Blue Devils were able to hit six shots from three-point range and were 7-of-7 from the line.
The Raiders completed their day with a 66-35 loss to Class 6A Hazel Green.
Good Hope played a tripleheader at Florette on Wednesday, meeting Brewer, Danville and Decatur. Adams felt that was a learning lesson, especially Brewer and Decatur, who are 6A schools and experienced success the previous year.
The Raiders will continue their play day series next week at Priceville.
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