JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – After surviving a thriller in the sub-regional at home against Locust Fork, the Hanceville Bulldogs traveled East Saturday night to face the top-ranked Piedmont Bulldogs in the Northeast Regional semifinals. After trailing for most of the game, Hanceville climbed back to tie the game at the end of regulation and extended the game into not one, but two overtime periods. The free throw line is where Hanceville was able to finally create some separation in double overtime and the Bulldogs kept their postseason hopes alive with a 52-50 win.
Hanceville Head Coach Stephen Chandler was proud of the resilience his team showed throughout the game that kept them in arms reach and gave them a chance to rally and win it late in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“We tried to just take things one at a time. Get a stop, try to get a bucket and really try to keep no. 1 from getting going again. He’s a really good scorer and their best player so we tried to keep it out of his hands and did a good job on him. Then on the other end we just had different guys stepping up,” Chandler said. “Zach Campbell, Raiden Morgan, Cainon Moore and Izayah Glenon all stepped up and made some timely buckets and I’m just really proud of all the guys for pushing through and finding ways to stay in it.”
The Bulldogs have now played three overtimes in their last two games so they’re getting used to playing under pressure. It’d be hard to pick against Hanceville in any close game right now and Chandler credits his players’ poise for their late-game success.
“This whole year we’ve tried to play a tough schedule along with the teams in our county and that’s been good for us. We’re just kind of figuring out ways to win at the end and not freaking out and always being in control,” Chandler said. “We’ve kind of got that right now, just an idea of how to figure it out late in games.”
Both teams were knotted at 12 at the end of the first but turnovers allowed Piedmont to pull ahead as the second quarter progressed and take a 30-23 lead into the locker room at halftime. Piedmont maintained a 7-point lead after three quarters, but Hanceville was able to chip away in the final frame and tie the game at 46 by the end of regulation, sending the game into overtime.
Neither team was able to get on the board early in the overtime period, but Izayah Glenon knocked down a pair of free throws to give Hanceville a 2-point lead with around two minutes remaining. Piedmont laid one in to tie the game at 48 with just a few seconds to play but Hanceville wasn’t able to answer on the other end and the game went into double overtime.
Raiden Morgan scored to retake the lead for Hanceville at the start of double overtime, but Piedmont netted a pair of free throws to tie the game at 50 with just over a minute to play. After creating a turnover, Hanceville took over possession with 50 seconds on the clock and Glenon hit one of two shots from the free throw line to give Hanceville a 51-50 lead with 25 seconds remaining. Piedmont missed a pair of shots on the other end and Zach Campbell was fouled with six seconds on the clock. Campbell drilled one of two from the line to make it a 52-50 game and after Piedmont’s final heave fell short, Hanceville was able to celebrate a huge upset victory and begin shifting focus towards the Northeast Regional Finals next week.
Morgan led the Bulldogs with 17 points in the win, 11 of which came in the second half and overtime. Campbell finished with 14, Cainon Moore posted 10 and Glenon added seven.
Hanceville will take on Midfield Wednesday at 2:40 with a spot at next week’s state tournament in Birmingham on the line.
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