HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Seeding came down to several tiebreakers in this year’s varsity boys bracket and the middle seeds, (4) Hanceville and (5) Fairview, faced off in Monday’s nightcap at Tom Drake Coliseum. It was as tight a matchup as we’ve had in the county all year and four quarters wasn’t nearly enough to decide it but after a back and forth fight, the Bulldogs edged the Aggies 90-84 to survive and advance to Friday’s semifinal round.
Owen Yarbrough drilled a shot from deep to give the Aggies a 3-0 start to the game and Dow Nichols netted a pair of free throws to make it 5-0 early. Yarbrough scored another basket with an acrobatic layup to make it a 7-2 game, but Brodie Malcom answered with a bucket on the end to trim the lead to 7-4. A Raiden Morgan basket tied the game at 10 with just over three minutes to play in the first. Two more Nichols free throws gave Fairview a 13-10 lead late in the opening quarter and J.T. White knocked down a jumper to make it 15-10. Ephram Milne got a shot to fall for Hanceville that cut the lead to 17-14 with less than a minute to play in the quarter but the Aggies ended the period on a 5-0 run and led the way 22-14 at the start of the second.
A three-pointer from Matthew Cornelius trimmed the lead to 22-17 at the start of the second quarter and Tyson Bellmon buried another three to make it a 24-21 game with just over five minutes to play in the half. Yarbrough scored another basket in the paint for Fairview to give the Aggies a 26-22 lead and Austin Jackson intercepted a Bulldogs pass and collected an easy bucket to make it 29-22 midway through the period.
Preston Ryan drilled a three to put Fairview on top 32-24 but Morgan answered with a three of his own to make it 32-27 with two minutes to play in the half. Another Morgan bucket cut the lead down to just three and Bellmon netted another deep three to tie the game. The run continued for Hanceville as Malcom turned a steal into two quick points and gave the Bulldogs a 34-32 lead with just over a minute remaining in the second quarter. Nichols scored at the rim to give Fairview a 35-34 lead, but Malcom responded with a triple in the final seconds of the half that gave Hanceville a 37-35 lead at the break.
The Aggies pulled ahead 39-38 early in the third and another basket from White gave them a 41-38 lead. Two quick baskets by Fairview gave the Aggies a 43-42 lead but Cainon Moore answered with a bucket on the other end to put the Bulldogs back up by one. A three-pointer from Jackson gave the Aggies a 46-44 lead midway through the third and he scored another basket on the fast break to give them a 4-point lead. A Malcom jumper cut the Fairview lead to three with two minutes to play in the period and he later added a pair of free throws that tied the game at 49. Malcom netted another shot from the free throw line with 11 seconds on the clock and Hanceville went into the final period leading the Aggies 50-49.
Zach Campbell turned a steal into a basket early in the fourth to stretch the Hanceville lead to three but a pair of free throws from Sawyer Daniel trimmed the lead back down to one. A Yarbrough bucket put Fairview up 53-52 but Campbell and Moore each scored inside to give Hanceville the lead back at 56-53. After another Moore basket, Yarbrough scored to make it a 58-55 game and a Nichols basket cut the lead to one midway through the fourth.
Cornelius knocked down a pair at the line to put the Bulldogs back up by three and Yarbrough and Malcom each exchanged baskets to make it a 62-59 game. Yarbrough scored again to cut the lead back down to one and Jackson laid one in at the rim to put the Aggies on top 63-62 with just over two minutes to play. Campbell knotted the game at 63 with a free throw and on the next Hanceville possession, Malcom finished an and-one play at the line to give the Bulldogs a 66-64 lead late in the game. Malcom drilled a three with just over a minute to play to make it 69-64 but Daniel answered with two points on the other end to cut the lead to three. Yarbrough scored inside to trim the Hanceville lead to 69-68 with just 16 seconds remaining. Bellmon went to the free throw line for the Bulldogs with 12 seconds on the clock and hit one of two from the charity stripe to make it 70-68, giving the Aggies one more chance to tie the game or take the lead. After narrowly avoiding a turnover, Yarbrough scooped up the loose ball and put it in at the buzzer to tie the game at 70 and send us to overtime.
Bellmon drilled a corner three to give Hanceville a three-point lead early in the overtime period but a basket from Peyton Bailey cut the lead to 73-72. A turnover by the Bulldogs led to a Yarbough three and a 2-point lead for Fairview but another free throw from Malcom trimmed the lead to one with just over a minute to play. Bailey buried a pair of free throws with 50 seconds to play to put the Aggies in front 77-74 but Morgan completed an and-one play on the other end to tie the game with under 30 seconds to play. After a turnover from Fairview, the Bulldogs got the ball back with nine seconds on the clock but couldn’t get a shot to fall and we went into double overtime knotted at 77.
Bellmon knocked down a deep three to make it 80-77 early in the second overtime but Nichols added a pair of free throws to cut the lead to one. A tough basket by Campbell gave Hanceville an 82-79 lead with two minutes to play but a pair of Jackson free throws made it a 1-point game once again. Moore scored a strong bucket inside to get the lead back up to three and after Bellmon drilled two more shots from the line, the Bulldogs led things 86-81 with less than a minute to play. Another free throw gave Hanceville a 7-point lead by Yarbrough responded with a three-pointer that trimmed the lead to 88-84 with just 24 seconds to play. The late lead was too much to overcome for Fairview and the Bulldogs held on to win a nail-biter, 90-84.
Malcom racked up 31 points in the win for Hanceville. Bellmon posted 16, Morgan scored 14, Campbell finished with 11 and Moore added nine. Yarbrough led the way with 31 for the Aggies, followed by Jackson with 17, Nichols with 15 and White with seven.
Hanceville will advance to take on the top-seeded Good Hope Raiders in the semifinals Friday night at 6:15.
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