Prior to the Scottsboro varsity boys basketball team’s Class 6A Northwest Regional semifinal game, head coach Jason Bell wrote several notes about the game on a dry-erase board for his team to read.
Among them was one about it being OK to celebrate Scottsboro’s first trip to a regional final.
Two hours later, the Wildcats did just that.
Scottsboro erased an eight-point deficit in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and then held on despite its top-two leading scorers fouling out in overtime to defeat No. 7-ranked Pinson Valley 69-67 Friday night at Pinson Valley High School.
“These are awesome kids and they deserve everything they’re getting,” Bell said. “It’s awesome to watch, awesome to coach, awesome to be a part of.”
The win, the Wildcats’ first in four regional appearances, sent Scottsboro (24-4) to the Northwest Regional championship game, where it faces No. 6 Clay-Chalkville (21-4) Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville. Like Scottsboro, Clay-Chalkville is also making its first regional finals appearance. The Cougars edged Buckhorn, Scottsboro’s Area 15 rival, 52-47 in a regional semifinal game in New Market on Monday.
The Northwest Regional champion advances to play Southeast Regional champion Spanish Fort in the Class 6A Boys Final Four on Monday at 11:30 a.m. at UAB. The Class 6A state championship game is Wednesday, March 3 at 11:30 a.m.
Prior to Friday’s win, Scottsboro had not reached the round of eight since the 1976-77 Wildcats advanced to the then eight-team state tournament.
Jordan Davis and BJ Harris scored 18 and 14 points respectively for Scottsboro while Tyson Sexton had 12, Parker Bell had 10, JaVaris Branford had nine, Noah Linville had four and Kyle Wright had two.
Greedy Williams led four Pinson Valley (20-7) players in double figures with 18 points while JoJo James had 17, Caleb White had 11 and Isaiah Sims had 10.
Scottsboro raced out to a 13-2 lead before the Indians pulled to within 13-9 after one quarter. Pinson Valley got hot from the 3-point arc in the second quarter, making six treys, including two in the last 40 seconds, to take a 32-24 halftime lead. But Scottsboro cut the Pinson Valley lead to 40-37 after three quarters. The Indians seemed to have the game under control after Williams sank a 3-pointer to give Pinson Valley a 57-49 lead with 1:51 remaining in the fourth quarter.
But the Wildcats wouldn’t fold. Harris scored in the lane 15 seconds later, and Parker Bell scored a layup in transition off of Harris’ steal to quickly trim deficit to 57-53 with 1:23 left in regulation. After Pinson Valley missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free-throw opportunity, Parker Bell drove the lane for another layup to cut the Indians’ lead to 57-55. After Pinson Valley got a layup after the teams’ traded turnovers, Parker Bell’s runner in the lane got the Wildcats’ with 59-57 with 19.8 remaining in regulation.
Scottsboro then fouled to send Pinson Valley to the free-throw line, but again the Indians missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Harris, who during the game passed Pat Trammell to move into third on Scottsboro’s all-time career scoring list, drove to the basket and was fouled on the shot attempt with 7.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The senior calmly sank both two free throws to send the game to overtime, where the Wildcats grabbed the advantage.
Davis’ bucket just 16 seconds into the extra period gave Scottsboro its first lead since the second quarter. Harris followed that with another basket 34 seconds later, and Sexton swished a free throw to push the Wildcats in front 64-59.
After a Pinson Valley basket, Harris fouled out after being called for an offensive foul on Scottsboro’s ensuing possession. A few seconds later, Davis fouled out as well.
But again, Scottsboro wouldn’t fold. Branford forced a jump ball on Pinson Valley’s next possession that gave the Wildcats possession, and they bled the clock until the one minute mark when Noah Linville was fouled. The senior sank both free throws to give Scottsboro a 66-61 lead. After a Pinson Valley basket and a Scottsboro turnover, the Indians missed a tying 3-pointer. Scottsboro then missed a pair of free throws, and the Indians scored inside to pull within 66-65 with 16.5 seconds left. But Branford sank a pair of free throws for Scottsboro two seconds later, and after another Pinson Valley basket, the senior hit another free throw to give the Wildcats a 69-67 lead with 6.3 seconds remaining.
After a Pinson Valley timeout, Williams drove from the left wing and put up a short shot that was off the mark as time expired, triggering a spirited Scottsboro celebration.
The win was Scottsboro’s third straight when trailing entering the fourth quarter, including a second straight overtime victory.
“From Day 1 we’ve talked about being mentally tough, and you can’t get any more mentally tough that what these kids are,” Jason Bell said. “Unbelievable effort. We’re down the whole game seems like. We just kept chipping away and chipping away. These kids absolutely have no quit in them.”