Cold Springs never saw it coming.
The Eagles failed to find a rhythm offensively, while Hatton forwards Ty Terry and Laron Cooper had a field day inside, as the Hornets stung Cold Springs 62-41 on Tuesday to advance to the Class 2A Northwest Regional final.
“I’m shocked as far as the second half goes,” Eagle coach Tim Burleson said. “We had a really difficult time scoring the basketball. Hats off to Hatton’s defense.”
Despite having trouble stopping Cooper, the first 16 minutes of the game were dead even as Cold Springs (18-11) found some balanced scoring early from Chayse Elliott, Triston Chambers and Layne Rice, heading into the locker room tied at 22 apiece.
The second half was a completely different story for Burleson’s squad.
The Eagles were outscored 20-5 in the third quarter with 13 of those points coming from Terry in the paint and out on the perimeter.
“It wasn’t a very good matchup for us (with those two),” Burleson said. “We knew coming in it was going to be a difficult situation for us to handle.”
Hatton (19-8) coach Rusty Murks had a similar assessment of his two big men.
“We thought coming in they’d struggle with one of them,” he said. “But with both of them out there, we knew it was almost impossible for them.”
Terry led the Hornets with 25 points, while Cooper added 18 in Hatton’s first regional appearance since 2004.
The fourth quarter was much of the same for Cold Springs, as it failed to garner a streak of baskets on O or secure consecutive stops on D to make any type of comeback run.
The open looks the Eagles had been so accustomed to seeing weren’t there on Tuesday night.
“I just think they frustrated us,” Burleson said. “Early, we missed shots we normally make, and once we missed them, I think we started to force it a little bit.”
It wasn’t all bad for Cold Springs, however, as Elliott eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for his prep career with a layup midway through the third quarter.
Elliott lamented that although it was a great accomplishment, he’d much rather have the win.
“Scoring 2,000 was something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “It’s a big deal, but our main goal was to win as many games as we could this year.
“Losing in the first round at Wallace every year is a sick feeling.”
Burleson touted Elliott as “one of the hardest workers I know.”
“That accomplishment speaks for itself,” he said. “He’s put in a lot of work at the gym since he’s been at Cold Springs.”
Elliott led his team for the final time with 15 points, while Rice tallied 13 and Chambers, eight.
Josh Freeman hit a late trey to finish with three points, and Brandon Whaley was good for two as well.
Hatton will move on to face Tanner on Friday at 5:20 p.m. in the regional championship.
Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at email@example.com.