Russellville pounds Athens for area crown
After the opening round of the Class 5A, Area 15 Tournament many Russellville fans were worried about the Golden Tigers' chances against Athens.
The Golden Eagles dominated Muscle Shoals while the Golden Tigers struggled against Hartselle.
Those fears were laid to rest Monday night as Russellville cruised to a 90-60 victory to claim its second straight area title.
"We shot the ball well and played good defense," said Russellville coach Michael Smith. "That combination is hard to beat."
The Golden Tigers dominated the first quarter, jumping out to a 29-7 lead.
Part of that success was shutting down Athens' Trey Brooks, who was not able to find his scoring touch until the second half.
"He wasn't much of a factor," Smith said. "By (the third quarter) he either made more of an effort to try and score or we started relaxing and didn't get our double team there quick enough."
Brooks was able to pour in a game-high 28 points for Athens, but by the time he took control Russellville's lead was too much to overcome.
The Golden Tigers spread the scoring around with 10 of the 11 players on the roster scoring and five of those players reaching double digits.
Jermaine Bates led the Golden Tigers with 23 points and 15 rebounds while Will Bostick added 19. Terence Smith, Nate Dunstan and Tucker Hammock scored 10 points each for Russellville. Smith also recorded 11 rebounds to give the Golden Tigers two players with double-doubles.
Michael Smith said that kind of production is the key to winning in the playoffs, especially when bench players reach double figures.
Also scoring for Russellville were Darrian Graham (7), Mark Davis (5), Micah McCulloch (4) and Nathan McAlister (2).
With the win the Golden Tigers will host Lee-Huntsville, a 57-56 loser to Butler in the Area 16 Tournament title game, during the sub-regional at 7 p.m. Friday.
Michael Smith said he talked to his team about the importance of hosting the sub-regional game.
"Anytime you can play at home is a much better feeling than having to travel, it doesn't matter who you play," Smith said. "I feel chances at home are always greater than on the road."