- Cullman, Alabama

February 18, 2014

NORTHWEST REGIONAL TOURNEY (Class 6A): Bessemer City boys top Hazel Green 60-56 in knee-knocking semifinal

Staff Reports
The Cullman Times

HANCEVILLE — Class 6A basketball rarely disappoints at the Northwest Regional Tournament.

Bessemer City and Hazel Green's semifinal Tuesday was certainly no exception.

In the end, it was Dusharme' Jones and the Tigers who pulled off the comeback, stealing the momentum late in the third quarter and barely holding on to it in a knee-knocking final minute for a 60-56 win over the Trojans.

Micah Fuller piped in with 14 points, and Jones had 11 to go along with four steals, none more important than his last that sparked a sweet left-handed finger roll to tie the game at 39-all at the third-quarter buzzer.

Hazel Green led by 16 midway through the second quarter and by 10 at intermission. The second half was more to Bessemer City's liking, however, with a 42-28 scoring advantage over the stretch.

Other Tigers (18-7) in double digits were Carlos Bell and Alexander Johnson, who each touted 10 points.

The first quarter was all Ethan Stair, who contributed 10 of the Trojan's 12 points during the stretch. He finished with a game-high 19 points, while UAB signee Lewis Sullivan rounded out a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Hazel Green (21-13), the 2012 tourney champs, were seeking its third consecutive title tilt appearance. Instead, it'll be Bessemer City playing Bob Jones for the regional championship Friday at 10:40 a.m.


% Bob Jones 58, Minor 48: The Tigers turned out to be a minor speed bump for the Patriots, who received 25 points from Josh Mitchell in a semifinal not nearly as dramatic as its predecessor.

Tanner Finley added 11 points for Bob Jones (19-11), which won its first regional game since 2010, the same year it topped Minor 63-45 en route to a regional and state tourney title.

The Patriots shot just a shade under 54 percent from the field, hitting 21 of their 39 attempts. Mitchell was the main man responsible for the high mark, draining 7 of 8 2-point tries, 2 of 3 from behind the arc and 5 of 8 free throws.

Gene Davis and Cameron Cullen were the top dogs for Minor (18-13) with 13 and 12 points, respectively.


Class 6A Girls

% Sparkman 57, Hoover 40: Alexis Jennings has some business to take care of before heading off to Kentucky this fall.

First on the list was avenge a season-ending loss to the Buccaneers in last year's Northwest Regional Tournament final, the Lady Senators' only blemish of the 2013 campaign.

Done and done.

Jennings piled on 29 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, and Toni Brewer tossed in 14 points and nine boards, helping top-ranked Sparkman upend two-time, defending-state champion Hoover Tuesday morning at Tom Drake Coliseum.

Jennings, a 6-foot-2 center, was a perfect 16 of 16 at the free-throw line and even sank a shot from downtown for good measure early in the second quarter. The Senators (31-2) were 31 of 36 overall from the charity stripe.

Jada Smith collected 15 points and three steals for the Bucs, who trailed just 23-21 at halftime. Hoover finished the season 17-14.

Sparkman advances to face either Austin or Bessemer City for the tourney championship Friday at 9 a.m. The winner will punch its ticket to next week's Final 48 in Birmingham.


% Austin 57, Bessemer City 40: Same score — and same destination for the Lady Black Bears, too.

Aaliyah Rice put up an efficient 13 points, and Aaliyah Fuqua, Tyra Johnson and Alisha Davis all chipped in nine to ensure Austin's spot in Friday's title bout.

Rice was 4 of 5 from the field and 5 of 6 at the free-throw line for the Black Bears (25-10), who progressively increased their lead — 14-13, 30-21 and 43-29 — at each quarter break.

Amber Pinkard paced the Lady Tigers (14-7) with 12 points.


% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at