HANCEVILLE - Twenty-five years of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Northwest Regional basketball tournament is stored in the record books.
The 2018 edition ended Wednesday evening in an interesting completion. No. 2 Wenonah crushed No. 1 Lee Huntsville 59-37, by an astounding 32-5 second half blitz. Many thought the 5A final would be a tight one, not a contest where shots for Lee just would not go down in the final 16:00.
Seeing this tournament for the 25th straight year through my work in the media, makes it a routine time in coming to Wallace State's Tom Drake Coliseum for six days in the middle of February.
But like tournaments from the past, memories are made and these are the latest in regards of how this event creates excitement from one year to the next.
Reviewing from what happened inside the Coliseum between February 15-21, there was plenty of unforgettable moments.
We begin with the Hanceville Bulldogs. Accomplishing a great performance in upsetting No. 5 Holly Pond Broncos 65-59 in the 3A regional semifinal, the Bulldogs almost got their goal they wanted in winning the title and going on to Birmingham.
But Lauderdale County squeezed it out in the closing seconds Wednesday afternoon, 57-53. In two games in this year's tournament, Hanceville was involved in 12 lead changes with Holly Pond and an incredible 20 times vs. Lauderdale County, 16 coming in the first half.
The Bulldogs went through a season of highs and lows, overcoming a slump in January to win their last six games, put a county rival out of the postseason and thrill a crowd of over 3,000 in playing in their city, one mile north of their campus.
Something that stands out from the 2018 regional is the number of schools that took home the championship hardware in both divisions.
Lauderdale County's team were the best in 3A, Wenonah pulled it off in 5A, Hazel Green's girls and varsity won 6A and Sparkman celebrated with a sweep in the finals over postseason foe Hoover.
Plenty of support will come from these communities next week in the Final Four at Legacy Arena inside the BJCC.
Wenonah girls coach Emmanuel Bell is in inspiration to all of us. Bell, who has more than 500 wins in his career with consecutive state championships, is dealing with the biggest challenge of his life.
Bell is diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. He had enough strength to be on the sidelines while his Lady Dragons defeated Fairview and Lee Huntsville to get a step closer of a fifth straight 5A title.
Unfortunately, the cancer has effected him, not able to lead his team as he did in previous seasons. Assistant coach Kenneth Lang called the plays while Bell was there to help his squad through spiritual power.
Talk about giving an all out effort in wanting to win a title, Cold Springs' sophomore center Elizabeth Hill. Hill hurt her left elbow late in the second quarter of the 2A regional final with Phil Campbell.
She tried to play through the pain, but it rendered her. Her injury was the latest in a series for a Cold Springs that fought through the adversity to get 21 wins, eliminate playoff rival Tanner and play for the regional title for the third time in the last four years.
Cold Springs never had its entire roster without someone being injured or suffering from illness, once the season began. But with Tammy West leading the team, the Eagles followed her emphasis on playing hard. An 8-8 record around Christmas was adjusted with 13 victories in their final 18 games.
The two games by Hanceville in the tournament rank among the best played in the varsity division this year at the regional.
An incredible 1A final took place Tuesday night as South Lamar was trying to defend its regional title vs. No. 6 R.A. Hubbard.
Both teams got into a shootout with Hubbard leading 33-26 at halftime as South Lamar narrowed it to 50-48 after the third.
The game went into overtime with Hubbard getting it in the final seconds by a 69-65 margin.
Two small type guards gave the crowd plenty to enjoy with both combing for 56 points. South Lamar's Malachi Oglen was scoring points on driving to the basket, putting 29 next to his name on the scorebook.
Point guard Tyson Garth of RA Hubbard stood out with 28 points, scoring six treys and had 10 of the Chiefs' 13 points in the extra 4:00.
That's what makes small school hoops so fun to see, especially at playoff time.
A group that appeared at the Coliseum for the last time, did it in style.
Lauderdale County's Allie Craig Cruce led the Lady Tigers to a 60-49 win over Colbert County in the 3A final. Cruce and her teammates avenged a heartbreaking loss in the regional final in 2017 and seem to be the favorite to win next week in the 3A Final Four.
Cruce will be going into the SEC at Alabama next season.
Deshler's Karleigh Sledge powered her way for 28 points in keying the Lady Tigers to their 21st straight victory, a 78-56 conquest of Danville in Class 4A. Sledge will take her talent to Jacksonville State after she graduates in May.
Despite a loss in the 3A semifinal, Holly Pond's Griffin Morris put together a stout effort with 24 points, shining well from the foul line, hitting 11 of 12 attempts.
Morris was named to the all-tournament team, three weeks after he walked off with the Joe Shults Award from the Cullman County Tournament.
Hanceville point guard Brendan Flanigan fought off a dislocated finger on his right hand in the semifinal win against Holly Pond. Flanigan was at full throttle Wednesday, handling his point guard position very effective vs. Lauderdale County's floor leader, Wyatt Newton. Newton was solid in taking contact three times by Hanceville players, causing them to be charged with offensive fouls in driving near the basket.
The regional officially caps my season for covering high school hoops that started November 11 with Cullman playing at arch rival Hartselle.
I've enjoyed it as I do for the many games covered through reporting for Sportspage and calling a series of them on WKUL Radio (92.1 FM).
I had 16 games as a broadcaster from the regional, doing six for WKUL and 10 via the Northwest Regional Radio Network. Six games were on 93.9 FM, WYTK in Florence and four came on WJEC-FM in Vernon.
The moments are unforgettable. Sad to see the season done. Look forward to summer team camps and then the 2018-19 season that will come around in mid November.
Photo of two premier plays in 3A basketball. From left, Allie Craig Cruce of Lauderdale County and Chelsea Leach of Colbert County. This was during the regional final Wednesday at Wallace State, won by Lauderdale County 60-49.
Sportspage photo by Johnny Thornton.
AHSAA Northwest Regional Wednesday
At Tom Drake Coliseum - Hanceville:
4A G: Deshler 78, Danville 56
4A: Cordova 56, Deshler 48
3A G: Lauderdale Co 60, Colbert Co 49
3A: Lauderdale Co 57, Hanceville 53
5A G: Wenonah 56, Lee Huntsville 41
5A: Wenonah 59, Lee Huntsville 37
FLASH NOTES: Hanceville left an impact despite coming up short in the 3A regional final to Lauderdale County.
The two teams went through five ties and an incredible 16 lead changes by halftime. Twenty lead changes would be for the entire contest.
A 9-2 run late in the second lifted Lauderdale County to a 38-35 halftime lead.
Foul trouble became a concern for Hanceville as star forward RJ Evans went to the bench with three right before the half closed out.
Damion Johnson made matters worse by having three as well.
Hanceville went down 42-35 to start the third, regrouped and narrowed it to 46-45 after the third.
Evans and Josh Stanley got disqualified in the fourth period, putting a lot of pressure on Hanceville to comeback with two valuable starters up front out.
Lauderdale County PG Wyatt Newton was able to score three out of four from the line in the final seconds. His last one came after Hanceville turned the ball, needing to score that would have tied the game and force overtime.
Conner Smith tossed in 17 for the Tigers, now 23-9 and was named regional MVP.
Zeke McDonald put his name on the all-tournament team for Hanceville, scoring 15, while Raiden Morgan netted 11 and also collected an all-tournament award, as did Evans who tallied 10.
Fred Ellis produced nine off the bench with Hanceville shooting well, going 20 of 39 for the game and nine of nine from the line. The Bulldogs' six-game winning streak ended as they posted 19 wins against nine defeats, their best season since 2014 for Daniel Wakefield.
No. 1 Deshler Lady Tigers were off and running early, getting control and leading No. 6 Danville 21-9 following the first period.
Their offense was consistent and at times, dangerous. Deshler put 22 on the board in the second and went to the locker room, comfortably ahead 43-23.
Danville was unable to stop the 1-2 punch of Deshler with center Karleigh Sledge producing 28 points and guard Taylor Aikerson scoring 18. They got support by the bench with 10 points from Shamari Thirkill. Deshler was 28 of 67 for the game, nine of 26 in threes and 13 of 20 from the line.
Sledge was named the regional MVP with Aikerson and Abbi Holley joining her on the A-T team. Deshler is 32-1 and heads to the Final Four in Birmingham with a 21-game winning streak.
Danville had its guards, point guard Kayla Compton and shooting guard Jolee Cole to give them solid play, scoring 16 points each.
Compton made her impact in the third quarter with 11 points on five field goals, including one trey.
Cole knocked down six shots, one from long range and added three at the line. Both were selected to the A-T team. Under first year coach J.J.Hill, the Lady Hawks finish 26-9.
Cordova defended its regional championship with a 14-6 first period lead over Deshler. Deshler stayed on the heels of the Blue Devils, down 25-20 at the half, but was behind 40-33 going into the fourth.
Deshler could not find enough offense to overtake the Tigers in the final stanza.
Deshler ends the season 28-7, 4th in the 4A rankings.
Cordova will return to Birmingham for the Final Four at 24-9.
Issac Chatman was named the regional MVP. He scored 17 in the title game. Jayce Willingham put 22 on the board and guard Demeterius Kirk tallied 13. They were selected to the All-Tournament team.
Avery Sears tossed in 21 for the Tigers with JP Robinson scoring 15. Both earned all-tournament honors.
Lauderdale County Lady Tigers stormed to a 38-16 lead at the break in the 3A title bout with Colbert County.
Colbert County was able to find a way of getting the deficit cut down some, putting together a 33-point second half to only 22 for the No. 1 ranked Lady Tigers.
Allie Craig Cruce, in her final game in the Northwest Regional, collected 27 points, was 12 of 15 from the line and had 10 rebounds. She easily received the MVP award.
Chelsea Leach of Colbert County ended her career, producing 22 points and got a spot on the all-tournament team.
Lauderdale County is 34-2 in returning to Birmingham after missing out in 2017 with a regional final loss to Locust Fork.
Colbert County produced 21 wins against seven losses that included an upset at Locust Fork in the sub-regional round to send the Lady Indians to Wallace State this season.
An emotional Wenonah Lady Dragons team claimed their fifth straight regional title as they fight hard on the hardwood while their coach, Emmanuel Bell, fights for his life with Stage 4 cancer.
Bell was able to be on the bench for both games this week at the Coliseum, but let Kenneth Lang run the duties.
Wenonah led 20-12 at the half and kept the advantage at arms length to improve to 25-7 on the season and head back to the Magic City in the quest of nailing down another championship.
Faith Reynolds was the MVP for the Lady Dragons.
Fairview center Abbi Taylor, was selected for the A-T team after a solid performance in the Lady Aggies' semifinal defeat to Wenonah 54-38.
Wenonah put on a 31-5 second half explosion to overcome a 32-28 halftime deficit withj No. 1 Lee. Lee went through frustration in the second half, scoring only five points and four technical fouls to boot.
Fairview's Bryson Flecther was selected to the All-Tournament team.
Kendall Tucker of Wenonah was the regional MVP.
Photo of Deshler PG JP Robinson (1) vs. Cordova guard Demeterius Kirk (2) in the 1st of 4A regional final at Wallace State Wednesday.
Photo of Colbert County senior Chelsea Leach going to the goal in between the Lauderdale County defense Wednesday in the 3A regional final.
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton
AHSAA Northwest Regional championship games Wednesday
At Tom Drake Coliseum - Hanceville
7A G: Sparkman 55, Hoover 54
7A: Sparkman 70, Hoover 63
6A G: Hazel Green 60, Minor 11
6A: Hazel Green 44, Austin 41
1A G: Phillips 57, Holy Spirit 48
1A: RA Hubbard 69, South Lamar 65 (OT)
FLASH NOTES: A pattern took place when Sparkman had to like the Lady Senators earlier in the day, coming from behind to end Hoover's season at Wallace State.
Behind 11-10 in the first, Sparkman went to work with a strong second period, outscoring Hoover 20-9 and went ahead 30-20.
Sparkman without numerous Hoover challenges in the second half with the No. 4 Senators moving on to the Final Four in Birmingham, taking a 30-4 record with them.
Darron Howard led the Senators with 20 points.
No. 2 Hoover got a 35-point outing by Jamari Blackmon.
Malik Tyson of Sparkman was named the regional MVP.
No contest in the 6A girls game as No. 1 Hazel Green ran Minor back to Birmingham right off the start.
It was 29-4 after the first and 41-7 by halftime. Hazel Green improved to 32-2 on the season. Senior Caitlin Hose earned MVP honors for the Lady Trojans.
Hartselle junior point guard Moriah Taylor earned a spot on the All-Tournament game in her performance vs. Hazel Green during the semifinal last Friday.
The Hazel Green-Austin game moved very quickly, finishing before 3:30. Kira Lewis tossed in 23 to lead the Trojans. It was two free throws in the closing seconds from Jordan Beck that sealed the 22nd win of the season for Hazel Green.
Lewis was named the regional MVP. Beck earned a spot on the all-tournament team.
Senior Fabian Bell had 13 for Austin, who tried to repeat as regional champion. The Black Bears close out the season at 17-11. Bell and Josh Birdsong were selected to the all-tournament team.
No. 2 Phillips and No. 10 Holy Spirit battled through a hard fought 1A final with the game tied at 41-41 heading to the fourth quarter.
Phillips controlled the fourth stanza by a 16-7 run that carried them to the championship.
Allie McCollum of Phillips scored 16 in the finals and was named the regional MVP. She was joined on the A-T team by teammates Julianna Taylor (11 points in final) and Gracie Hallman (19 points). Phillips is now 28-3 on the season.
Holy Spirit got 18 by Imani Thompson who was all-tournament, along with Aryn Head. Head scored seven in the title game. The Lady Saints end the season at 23-3.
To conclude Tuesday's play was a dynamic 1A showdown between No. 6 RA Hubbard and defending regional champion South Lamar.
South Lamar overcame a fourth period deficit as the game went into overtime. The Stallions got the lead, early then were hurt by a series of turnovers, plus the accurate shooting at the line from Hubbard guard Tyson Garth.
Garth was perfect in eight tries during the extra 4:00 to get his team into the lead and stay there. Garth finished with 28 points, hitting six threes, a field goal and his eight of eight shooting from the line.
Garth was the obvious choice for the regional MVP from the winning side.
A superior performance came in the loss from South Lamar sophomore guard Malachi Oglen. Oglen drove his way to the goal, scoring 29 points on nine made shots and 10 of 12 from the stripe.
Oglen was joined on the all-tournament team by center Malik Cox and guard Alex Carter.
Also on the A-T team for RA Hubbard was Bymum and Reily Evans Jr.
Hubbard goes to Birmingham with 28 wins in 35 games. South Lamar finishes with 20 wins in 27 games.
Photo of Minor High Band performing prior to 6A girls final vs. Hazel Green.
Photo of 1st quarter action in 1A girls between Holy Spirit (white) vs. Phillips.
Sportspages photo by Johnny Thornton.
AHSAA Northwest Regional Monday
At Tom Drake Coliseum - Hanceville:
5A G: Wenonah 54, Fairview 38
5A G: Lee Huntsville 69, Pleasant Grove 47
5A: Wenonah 64, Fairview 42
5A: Lee Huntsville 73, Pleasant Grove 40
2A G: Phil Campbell 46, Cold Springs 29 (Championship)
2A: Tanner 73, Mars Hill 56 (Championship)
FLASH NOTES: Fans supporting the Phil Campbell Lady Bobcats came to Wallace State on Presidents' Day with t-shirts saying "We came to make a statement."
The No. 8 team in Class 2A did just that, denying Cold Springs the regional crown as they neutralized the Lady Eagles' attack, holding them to 28 percent shooting and 30 percent in three-point attempts.
What made it much worse for the Lady Eagles, five of 19 from the free throw line for 26 percent.
More unfortunate circumstances for the Lady Eagles, with Elizabeth Hill suffering an injury to her left elbow.
That occurred in the second quarter with Cold Springs trailing 20-15 at the half. They were in contention despite three of 10 from the line by intermission and Hill dealing with pain from the injury.
Cold Springs contained junior Abby Davis, allowing her only two points in the game.
They could not slow down sophomore Kallie Allen, who led Phil Campbell (27-5) with 20 points and was named the tournament MVP.
Senior Darby Elliott sparked for the Lady Bobcats in the third with four field goals for nine points as Phil Campbell upped the lead to 35-20, closing out on a 15-5 surge in the third.
Davis and Elliott joined Allen on the All-Tournament team. Cold Springs got Camryn Crider and Hill for how they played in leading the Lady Eagles past Lamar County in the semis 59-41.
On Monday, Crider scored 11 before fouling out, Hill managed nine, playing the second half with her left elbow taped.
Cold Springs completes the season at 21-13, playing in the regional final for the third time in the last four years.
The Lady Eagles have produced 109 wins in the last five years with West in command. Cold Springs will not lose a starter with Hill, Crider, Kinley Campbell, Aubrey Negron and Toni West to come back.
The only seniors off the squad are Prisca McAnnally and Charlotte Cummuings Scholarship Award winner from the county tournament, Zoe Strawbridge.
Fairview Lady Aggies fell behind to four-time 5A state champion Wenonah 15-7 after the first and trailed 34-18 at the half.
They did outscore Wenonah 15-11 in third to close to 45-33 and managed to trim the deficit to 45-35 at the start of the fourth period.
But PG Taylor Yeager and SG Abby Schnittker were unable to score, an item that spelled doom for the Cullman County champion.
Senior center Abbi Taylor played well by scoring 20 in her final game in a Fairview uniform. Taylor scored six field goals from close range and was deadly by hitting eight of nine free throws, including her last six attempts.
McKinna Yearwood scored seven in her final game.
Taylor told Sportspage after the game she has committed to play next year at Snead State.
Yearwood will be going to college in Boaz next year as well, with a volleyball scholarship.
The Aggies challenged No. 2 Wenonah for much of the game, taking a 15-12 lead at the end of the first. Wenonah then went on a 24-11 second period explosion and led at the break, 36-26.
Fairview was down 46-35 following the third, then struggled by scoring only seven in the fourth with Wenonah putting 18 on the board to close out the Aggies' quest for a berth to the regional final.
Bryson Fletcher had a good outing for the Aggies (17-15) in his final game for Fairview. Luke Yarbrough tossed in eight, Cameron Guthrie seven.
7A G: Sparkman vs. Hoover 9:00 (Championship)
7A: Sparkman vs. Hoover 10:45 (Championship)
6A G: Hazel Green vs. Minor 12:30 (Championship)
6A: Hazel Green vs. Austin 2:15 (Championship)
1A G: Phillips vs. Holy Spirit 4:00 (Championship)
1A: South Lamar vs. RA Hubbard (Championship)
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton
HANCEVILLE - Three days out of six scheduled for the 2018 Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Northwest basketball regional has been completed.
With the exception of Class 5A waiting to get on the floor at Tom Drake Coliseum for President's Day, championship games are now in the six other classes with high anticipation waiting on those who survived grueling challenges in the semifinal round to get a step closer "On the Road to Birmingham."
Day three ended Saturday night before 9:00 p.m. with the Hanceville Bulldogs coming out on top over the Holly Pond Broncos in the first Cullman County matchup in the regional in the 25-year history of the playoff format.
This game lived up to the hype of it going down to the wire, but for many, a surprise, with Hanceville playing even against No. 5 Holly Pond and getting a thrilling 65-59 victory.
Fifteen ranked teams coming to the Coliseum were able to be successful with eight seeing their run for glory end in a semifinal loss.
The most notable would be No. 3 Muscle Shoals from Class 6A. The Trojans were 15-1 since January and their only loss the week before in the Area 16 final at home to Hazel Green.
Victory was denied on Friday afternoon by a 43-38 loss to defending regional champion Austin. Austin is a very different club from last season with 16 wins against 11 losses. But when it was time to play, the Black Bears were ready to put a stop on a Muscle Shoals' season of 24 wins and just four setbacks.
Three No. 1 ranked girls' squads got challenged very hard early. Each weathered the storm, finding a way to adjust at the half and come out on top by solid second half performances.
Class 3A power Lauderdale County got behind to upstart West Morgan 20-12 in the second and trailed 22-21 at the break. With the talented Allie Craig Cruce playing around 3:00 of the first half due to foul trouble, concern was on the side of the Lady Tigers.
Cruce stayed out of further foul trouble, put together a 19-point 2nd half and Lauderdale toppled West Morgan 59-44 to set up a return trip to the finals against rival Colbert County.
Deshler was in the same status. No. 4 Priceville Lady Bulldogs had the Lady Tigers reeling at halftime, 26-22. That changed when Deshler began to force mistakes, allowed Priceville 16 second half points and breezed by the Morgan County school, 61-42.
Some teams can look at unfortunate moments that ended their season in semifinal play.
No. 5 Holly Pond from 3A managed one field goal in the second period vs. Hanceville. Free throw shooting kept them right on the heels of the Bulldogs, going 12 of 14 by intermission. Only able to score five times on field goals in 29 tries, plus a one for eight outing in threes was the difference as Hanceville outscored Holly Pond in total FGs 28 to 19 and treys by the margin of six to three.
Another local club, Good Hope's Lady Raiders, had the same effect. Unable to toss in a shot during the third quarter with No. 6 Danville, the Lady Raiders were outscored by 10 in the period and would lose by 10 points, 49-39.
The rim was completely closed for them at that time when the shots looked good. They just didn't go through the net when it was needed.
What to look forward for championship play?:
Champions will be crowned, beginning on Monday with Class 2A up first.
The Cold Springs Lady Eagles have fought their way through a challenging campaign of injuries and illness. Now they take part in their third regional final in four years with No. 8 Phil Campbell.
Phil Campbell ousted 5th rank Mars Hill Bible 55-46 on day one. It's a rematch between these two. Phil Campbell claimed a 67-59 win against Tammy West's unit November 22 at the West Point Thanksgiving Classic.
Two people that many will pay attention to will be the ladies that wear uniform No. 3.
Cold Springs' sophomore Elizabeth Hill scored the net for 30 points in the 59-41 semi win against Lamar County. She will encounter junior forward Abby Davis, who has been a key player for the Bobcats all season, producing a 26-5 record.
Mars Hill and Tanner is a rematch of the Area 16 title game in which Tanner upset the Panthers in Florence 51-46.
A title game doubleheader will lead off the Tuesday agenda between Sparkman and Hoover in Class 7A.
The 6A division will follow as No. 1 Hazel Green seems to have an upper hand on Minor in the girls game. Austin and the Hazel Green Trojans will fight it out to the finish.
Tuesday evening will conclude with 1A play, featuring #2 Phillips vs. #10 Holy Spirit in the girls and 8th ranked R.A. Hubbard getting a chance to take on defending regional winner South Lamar.
Now to Wednesday, can Danville's Lady Hawks hang in there with Deshler? That's the first game of the schedule, for the 4A crown.
A showdown will be featured in the varsity clash, No. 1 Cordova against No. 4 Deshler. Cordova is looking to repeat as the best in this region, with Deshler determined to change the pattern.
Lauderdale County's Lady Tigers tangle with Colbert County in the 3A final, followed by Lauderdale County meeting Hanceville.
The Lauderdale County varsity face a Cullman County team for the second consecutive season. The Tigers were edged by Holly Pond in the semis last season 71-66. Now they will try and prevent Hanceville from earning its 20th win of the season in playing for a trip to Birmingham for the first time in seven years.
Hanceville was mired in a slump of five wins in nine games between January 5-29. That got corrected as the Bulldogs have rolled off six consecutive victories. They gained attention in romping Carbon Hill 66-37 in the Area 12 final by scoring 14 times from treyland, with 30 of their 34 points in the first half coming from behind the circle.
Getting a 58-57 victory over East Lawrence in a survival test of the sub-region, sent the Bulldogs a mile up the road from Lane Horton Gym to the Wallace State campus.
Then the history making victory vs. a long time rival from the same county.
This is the time of the year where high school basketball creates plenty of excitement from playing at home and away sites, to a neutral location like Tom Drake Coliseum, where March Madness comes into the middle of February.
Photo of Cold Springs' Elizabeth Hill vs. Lamar County on February 15, courtesy of Cullman County Athletics.
AHSAA Northwest Regional Saturday
At Tom Drake Coliseum - Hanceville:
4A G: Danville 49, Good Hope 39
4A G: Deshler 61, Priceville 42
4A: Cordova 49, Haleyville 45
4A: Deshler 57, Fayette County 37
3A G: Colbert County 80, Carbon Hill 37
3A G: Lauderdale County 59, West Morgan 44
3A: Lauderdale County 59, Elkmont 32
3A: Hanceville 65, Holly Pond 59
FLASH NOTES: A busy day that began with the Good Hope Lady Raiders almost upsetting No. 6 Danville, ended with Hanceville getting the opportunity to break Holly Pond's undefeated streak since January and prevent the Broncos from a return trip to the regional championship game.
Hanceville and Holly Pond locked into a 14-14 tie after the opening quarter. The difference in the game wound up being the second as the Bulldogs outscored the Broncos 15-9 to gain a 29-23 halftime edge.
The two tossed in 36 points in the second half, with both scoring 20 in a furious fourth quarter.
Clutch plays by RJ Evans, Brendan Flanigan, Josh Stanley and Damien Johnson late in the contest proved to be enough for Hanceville to go up by 11 and hang on when Holly Pond got within four points before free throws from Flanigan was able to ice the biggest win of the season for Daniel Wakefield's squad.
Zeke McDonald tallied 14 for Hanceville, Evans scored 11, Raiden Morgan 10, Johnson had nine, Stanley eight, Fred Ellis three and Romeal Simmons two. The Bulldogs are now 19-8 on the season and have won six in a row.
Griffin Morris played his heart out in what was his final game in a Holly Pond uniform. Morris scored 24 points and was 11 of 12 from the line. Sophomore Kyler Chaney tossed in 16, Jake Harris seven, Tyler Boatright five, Zach Shaw three and McKinley Garrett four.
Holly Pond's free throw shooting kept the Broncos in the game. They were 18 of 23 in comparison to Hanceville going three of five.
But the Broncos suffered from the floor, shooting 19 of 64 and only three of 19 in three-point attempts.
Hanceville had 28 field goals to go in 59 shots and was six of 15 from long distance.
Hanceville comes back to the Coliseum Wednesday to face Lauderdale County who ran away from Elkmont 59-32 in the first semi.
Lauderdale improved to 22-9 with the victory, leading 32-14 at the half.
Buddy Burchell came off the bench for the Tigers (22-9) and led them with 17, scoring five times on threes and a field goal.
Good Hope Lady Raiders were in business, down just 21-19 to Danville after the first and 30-27 at the half.
But not scoring a field goal in the third was the difference with Danville going on a 12-2 spurt in the period to open up a 42-29 lead.
Erika Woodall had 13 in her final game in a Good Hope uniform with Leyton Seal scoring 12 on four treys and Kate Kent tossing in seven. Danville had a 17-point performance by Jolee Cole to lead them into the regional final vs. No. 1 Deshler.
5A G: Fairview vs. Wenonah 9:00 (WKUL-FM)
5A: Fairview vs. Wenonah 10:30
5A G: Pleasant Grove vs. Lee-Huntsville 12:00
5A: Pleasant Grove vs. Lee-Huntsville 1:30
2A G: Cold Springs vs. Phil Campbell 3:00 (WKUL-FM)
2A: Tanner vs. Mars Hill 4:45
Photo of Brendan Flanigan trying to drive on Jake Harris in 2nd half of NW Regional semifinal Saturday night at Wallace State. Sportspage photo by Johnny Thornton
AHSAA Northwest Regional Friday report
At Tom Drake Coliseum - Hanceville:
6A G: Minor 54, McAdory 49
6A G: Hazel Green 51, Hartselle 29
6A: Austin 43, Muscle Shoals 38
6A: Hazel Green 59, Columbia 54
1A G: Phillips 53, RA Hubbard 49
1A G: Holy Spirit 58, Belgreen 33
1A: RA Hubbard 66, Belgreen 51
1A: South Lamar 58, Meek 46
FLASH NOTES: Five teams that came to the NW Regional ranked in their respective class were eliminated from postseason play.
A feature game was in Class 6A between defending regional champion Hazel Green Lady Trojans (No. 1) and 7th ranked Hartselle Lady Tigers.
Hartselle stormed to a 13-5 lead after the first period before Hazel Green rallied and led at the half 21-20. Hazel Green went on a 22-run in the third period to break the game open and coasted from that point.
Hazel Green knocked down 68 percent (11-16) of its second half field goals, allowing Hartselle three of 17 through the final 16:00 and only one of 10 in three-point tries.
Brooke Hampel netted 23 for Hazel Green (32-2) with Hartselle (25-5) getting 13 by point guard Moriah Taylor.
Austin moved a step closer of defending its 6A regional title. The Black Bears stunned No. 3 Muscle Shoals 43-38, overcoming a 19-15 halftime bulge.
Austin outscored Muscle Shoals 15-6 in the third to take 30-26 lead and was able to hang on due to Muscle Shoals shooting four of 10 from the foul line in the fourth and having four turnovers in the final 2:00.
Fabian Bell scored 15 to lead the Black Bears to their 16th win of the season against 11 losses, with Hazel Green to face them in the title game Tuesday.
A dandy of game was in 1A girls with 2nd ranked Phillips getting past 6th ranked RA Hubbard 53-49. Phillips settled the score in avenging a loss to Hubbard in the regional final one year ago.
Sophomore Alicyn McCollum produced 19 for the She Bears, now 27-3. Hubbard, the defending regional champ, was led by Catera Troupe and Nautica Bibbs with 14 each. Hubbard concludes the season at 17-6.
In the finale, No. 7 Meek was trying to eliminate defending regional champ South Lamar. Meek got a 22-21 lead at the half, but fell behind in the third quarter as the Stallions got 15 of 21 points from 6'6" Malik Cox and took the lead at 42-32.
Cox would lead the Stallions to their 20th win against six defeats by scoring 24 points.
Meek's season came to a close at 25-6, an improvement from a 13-13 record in 2017.
Payton Key netted four treys for the Tigers and scored 14 points.
4A G: Good Hope vs. Danville 9:00 (WKUL-FM)
4A: Haleyville vs. Cordova 10:30
4A G: Deshler vs. Priceville 12:00
4A: Deshler vs. Fayette County 1:30
3A G: Colbert County vs. Carbon Hill 3:00
3A: Lauderdale County vs. Elkmont 4:30
3A G: Lauderdale County vs. West Morgan 6:00
3A: Holly Pond vs. Hanceville 7:30 (WKUL-FM)
Photo 1: Large crowd of Hartselle student body cheering on Lady Tigers in 6A semifinal vs. No. 1 ranked Hazel Green Friday afternoon.
Photo 2: From left, Cullman coach Bobby Meyer, assistant coach Cory Meyer, Josh Hembree's daughter and Cullman girls coach Josh Hembree watching the Austin-Muscle Shoals game from the East stands of Tom Drake Coliseum.
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton
AHSAA Northwest Regional
At Tom Drake Coliseum - Hanceville:
7A G: Sparkman 66, Tuscaloosa County 53
7A G: Hoover 53, Buckhorn 34
7A: Sparkman 71, Vestavia Hills 55
7A: Hoover 59, James Clemens 54
2A G: Cold Springs 59, Lamar County 41
2A G: Phil Campbell 55, Mars Hill 46
2A: Mars Hill 62, Red Bay 58
2A: Tanner 79, Sulligent 40
FLASH NOTES: Cold Springs' sophomore Elizabeth Hill caught everyone's attention Thursday afternoon, delivering a game high 30 points to get the Eagles into the regional title game for the third time in the last four seasons.
Cold Springs led 11-7 after the first then got the advantage to 27-20 at the half as Hill tallied 10 points in the second on two treys, a field goal and two free throws.
The sophomore started the third period scoring the first 12 points to get the lead extended then got support on back to back treys off the right baseline by Camryn Crider.
Cold Springs led 45-33 after the third.
Crider finished with 15 points, Toni West tossed in four, Kinley Campbell five, Aubrey Negron three and Kylon Hamby two. Cold Springs is now 21-12 for the season and has won 13 of its last 17 games.
Hill had a special moment along with the victory in scoring her 1,000th points during the third quarter. The sophomore has tallied 1,010 points in two varsity seasons with Cold Springs.
Lamar County got 18 points by Savannah Sudduth in appearing at the NW Regional for the first time in years. The Lady Bulldogs end the season at 18-6.
Tammy West's Lady Eagles will tangle with No. 8 Phil Campbell for the regional crown Monday at the Coliseum at 3:00 p.m
Phil Campbell came from behind to defeat No. 5 ranked Mars Hill 55-46. Junior Abby Davis scored 22 points, while sophomore Kallie Allen netted 11, Darby Elliott and Dakota Elliott both had eight.
Phil Campbell is 25-5 on the season with a win against Cold Springs from the West Point Thanksgiving Classic November 22 by the score of 67-59.
The game will be carried live on WKUL-FM.
A rematch in the 2A regional will take place after Mars Hill held off Red Bay 62-58 and Tanner blasted Sulligent 79-40. Both are from Area 16 with Tanner winning the area title at Mars Hill 51-46 on February 9.
Mars Hill led Red Bay 24-13 at the half, but had to weather the storm of a 45-point second half by the Tigers as they cut a 16-point deficit down to four in the final minute. Chandler McDaniel iced the win for Mars Hill (20-9) with two from the line in the final 4 seconds.
Avery Thrasher scored 23 for the Panthers. Red Bay was led by Gath Weatherford with a team high 20 points.
Tanner rolled over Sulligent, leading 28-15 after the first 41-17 at the half and 63-27 following the third.
The Rattlers had balance in CJ Yarbrough and Nathan Montgomery scoring 17 apiece while JJ Jones delivered 14.
6A G: McAdory vs. Minor 9:00
6A: Austin vs. Muscle Shoals 10:30
6A G: Hartselle vs. Hazel Green 12:00
6A: Hazel Green vs. Columbia 1:30
1A G: RA Hubbard vs. Phillips 3:00
1A: RA Hubbard vs. Belgreen 4:30
1A G: Holy Spirit vs. Belgreen 6:00
1A: South Lamar vs. Meek 7:30
Photo 1: Cold Springs coach Tammy West shares a smile with Elizabeth Hill after she is replaced late in the game following a 30-point performance.
Photo by Cullman County Athletics.
Photo 2: Cold Springs Lady Eagles attack the basket in the 1st half vs. Lamar County.
Photo by Cullman County Athletics.
Photo 3: Phil Campbell's Darby Elliott (20) drives to the basket in 1st half of Lady Bobcats' 55-46 semifinal win over Mars Hill.
Photo 4: AHSAA representative Jamie Lee speaks with Wallace State Police Chief Tyler Roden on safety at the Coliseum during the Northwest Regional Thursday.
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton.
AHSAA Sub-regional scores Tuesday:
Class 2A: Mars Hill 68, St. Bernard 36:
FLASH NOTES: Saints faced a tough opponent that jumped ahead 11-3 after the first and 28-11 at halftime, never leading up.
The Saints finish the season at 15-7, clinching the Area 13 championship that gave them a chance to play a Sub-Regional game at the Fazi-Richard Athletic Center.
Class 3A: Holly Pond 87, Colbert Heights 69:
FLASH NOTES: An upset was in display early with Colbert Heights trailing the No. 5 ranked Broncos 18-14. But Holly Pond was able to offset early foul problems from leading scorer Griffin Morris.
The Broncos had a 24-point second quarter that allowed them to extend the lead to 42-30 at halftime.
Mitch Morris' Broncos put 45 on the scoreboard in the final half to get some breathing room and extend their winning streak to 13 since the start of January.
Holly Pond is 28-3 this season and have gone 60-5 in the last two years, with consecutive berths to the Northwest Regional.
Next for Holly Pond: Vs. Hanceville in the NW Regional Saturday TBA (WKUL-FM)
Class 4A: Deshler 69, Good Hope 54:
FLASH NOTES: Good Hope fought hard with No. 4 Deshler in Tuscumbia before the Tigers turned back the Raiders late after Good Hope has closed the halftime deficit from 36-21 to 40-30 in the third quarter.
The Raiders conclude the season at 16-13 in reaching the sub-regional for the first time under second year coach Drew Adams.
Class 5A: Fairview 61, Mae Jemison 54:
FLASH NOTES: Inspired from their performance in winning the 5A, Area 12 title last Friday at Hayden, the Aggies put together a winning effort Tuesday night at Joe Shults Gym in eliminating defending state champion Mae Jemison from Huntsville.
First-year coach Branch Whitlock's Aggies are 16-14 and bound for the Northwest Regional.
Next for Fairview: Vs. Wenonah Monday in NW Regional 10:30 a.m. (WKUL-FM)
Class 6A: Pinson Valley 109, Cullman 59
FLASH NOTES: Cullman's season ended in a rough defeat down in Jefferson County to Pinson Valley. The Bearcats conclude the season at 18-14.
Sportspage photo of Fairview's Bryson Fletcher, by Johnny Thornton.
ACCC Basketball at Tom Drake Coliseum:
Wallace State 50, Lawson State 48 (Lady Lions 19-7, 6-2)
Wallace State 70, Lawson State 60 (Lions 14-12, 2-8)
FLASH NOTES: Wallace State Lady Lions shook off a late 4-point deficit and won when Demauria Moore hit a jumper from near the foul line in the closing seconds to break a tie. Wallace State is in striking distance of claiming 2nd place in the ACCC North, bouncing back from a 92-55 loss at No. 1 nationally ranked Shelton State over the weekend.
The Lions played well throughout the night and held back Lawson State to go 2-8 in the division and 14-12 for the season. Demarkus Lampley scored 16 of his 19 points for the Lions in the game's final 10:00.
Wallace State heads to Marion Military Thursday. The Lady Lions go to West Georgia Tech in a non-conference game on Saturday.
AHSAA Girls Sub-Regional playoffs:
Class 2A: Cold Springs 53, Tanner 48.
FLASH NOTES: Lady Eagles eliminated their postseason rival from Limestone County in the sub-regional round, overcoming a 26-23 halftime deficit. Cold Springs is now 20-12 on the season, returning to the regional for the third time in four seasons.
Next for Cold Springs: Vs. Lamar County Thursday in NW Regional 4:00 (WKUL-FM)
Class 3A: West Morgan 46, Hanceville 43
FLASH NOTES: Hanceville put together a determined effort in Morgan County, but fell short by three to the Lady Rebels. This was the best season for Hanceville in its fourth year under Christina Watson at 19-10. Hanceville will return four starters and will have to replace Karmen Johnson in the post, who will graduate in May.
Class 4A: Good Hope 54, Wilson 50
FLASH NOTES: Back to the Northwest Region goes the Lady Raiders after pulling it out in the closing seconds with Wilson from the Florence area.
Good Hope was down 37-36 going to the fourth when the Lady Raiders outscored Wilson 18-13 in the final period, getting the lead with less than 3:00 to play. Leyton Seal knocked down two from the line with 2.6 seconds to play that locked up the victory. Good Hope is two for two in winning areas and sub-regional games under coach Amanda Swann.
Next for Good Hope: Vs. Danville in NW Regional Saturday 9:00 (WKUL-FM)
Class 5A: Fairview 75, Mae Jemison 66
FLASH NOTES: No. 10 ranked Fairview was tested by a good challenge from Huntsville area school Mae Jemison. The Lady Aggies rose to the challenge with veteran seniors Abbi Taylor and Taylor Yeager scoring 23 and 19 points respectively. Payton Golden, Abby Schnittker and Valentina Klocker added 10 each for the Lady Aggies to say goodbye at Joe Shults Gym 10-1 on the season and 23-7 overall.
Next for Fairview: Vs. Wenonah in NW Regional Monday 9:00 (WKUL-FM)
Class 5A: Lee-Huntsville 65, West Point 51
FLASH NOTES: West Point went toe to toe with the 10th rated Lady Generals in Huntsville, but fell by a respectable margin.
West Point has posted 22 wins in the last two seasons. No one will be lost off the team as no senior played this season for coach Richie Penn. The Lady Warriors will look forward to next year, putting a very experienced squad on the floor vs. quality competition.
Class 6A: Center Point 61, Cullman 55
FLASH NOTES: Cullman was a step away from clinching a sub-regional win that would have sent the Lady Bearcats to Jacksonville.
Cullman made quality improvements in the second year under Josh Hembree, nailing down 18 wins after the had 15 in his rookie season.
Cullman will lose some talent in Anna Evans, Kennedy Wren and Alexandria Barker, but will be led in the third year of Hembree era by A.K. Eastman, Hannah Hoffman and others.
Photo of Hanceville's Karmen Johnson in her final game as a Lady Bulldog Monday night.
Photo courtesy of Cullman County Athletics.