Throughout the Scottsboro varsity boys basketball team’s postseason run to the state tournament, crunch time had been Scottsboro’s time.
But on Monday, the late-game breaks went the other way.
Down the stretch, a number of loose balls and key rebounds found their way to No. 5-ranked Spanish Fort, which outscored the Wildcats 12-2 over the final 4:57 to rally past Scottsboro 65-61 in the Class 6A state semifinals at UAB’s Bartow Arena in Birmingham.
“We’ve had breaks go our way in the postseason since area tournament game 1. (Today) toward the end, seemed like we couldn’t catch a break,” said Scottsboro head coach Jason Bell. “Couldn’t score when we needed to. It wasn’t for lack of effort. Two similar teams, two well-matched teams. (Spanish Fort) just made more plays down the stretch than we did.”
Scottsboro’s postseason run included wins over the No. 6 and No. 7-ranked teams and was two minutes away from including a win over the No. 5-ranked team.
After falling behind 12-3 at the start, Scottsboro rallied to lead 20-19 after one quarter. After Spanish Fort used an 8-0 run to take a 27-22 lead, Scottsboro followed with a 9-1 run to regain the lead en route to a 36-34 halftime advantage. The Wildcats led by as many as six points in the third quarter before carrying a 53-49 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Scottsboro pushed its lead to 59-53 on B.J Harris’ two free throws with 5:08 remaining, but the Wildcats struggled on the offensive end the rest of the way. The Toros ultimately tied the game at 59-all on Colby McAllister’s two free throws with 3:49 remaining before going in front 62-59 — it was Spanish Fort’s first lead of the second half — when Carl Fauntroy swished a 3-pointer from the left corner with 2:02 to play.
Tyson Sexton hit two free throws with 1:30 left to pull Scottsboro within 62-61, and the Wildcats ultimately got the basketball back while trailing by one. The teams then traded turnovers before Scottsboro missed a shot inside, and Fauntroy then made a free throw to push Spanish Fort’s lead to 63-61 with 27.3 seconds remaining. Scottsboro missed a tying shot attempt on its next possession, and Cameron Keshock then made two free throws for the Toros to secure the win.
Scottsboro had four players score in double figures, led by Sexton’s 20 points. The sophomore was 4-of-7 shooting from the 3-point arc.
Harris and Jordan Davis both scored 14 points for the Wildcats, with Harris also totaling five assists and five rebounds and Davis recording seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. Parker Bell added 10 points, four assists and four rebounds while Seth Whitmire had two points and Noah Linville had one point. JaVaris Branford had a team-high nine rebounds.
Horace led Spanish Fort with 20 points and Fauntroy and Keshock had 14 points each while McAllister had 11 and Jack Steudle had six.
“I hurt for (the players) that it’s over,” said Scottsboro head coach Jason Bell, “but they’ve done all they could do. These seven seniors (Branford, Sam Cobb, Davis, Clay Giles, Harris, Micah Kritner and Linville) have been just awesome leaders. They’ve done a great job of laying a foundation and being leaders for the young ones and hopefully we can get back here again.”
Spanish Fort (28-3) advanced to play No. 2 Mountain Brook in Wednesday’s Class 6A state finals.
Meanwhile, Scottsboro’s best season in 54 years ended with a 25-5 record, an area championship, the program’s first regional championship and the program’s first state semifinal appearance since the 1966-67 season.
“I hate that our ride ended, but it’s been a fun one,” Jason Bell said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my team. They’re an unusual team. There is no ego. They pull for each other. It was evident throughout the (season). It’s just an ultimate team, a team in every sense of the word. They do have a close bond. This day in time, it’s unusual to see a team like that. They’re heroes in their hometown. This is a special group.”