Three-peat: Belgreen boys win third straight county title
The Belgreen Bulldogs won an overtime thriller to capture their third straight Franklin County Tournament championship, beating Red Bay 51-45 Saturday night at Vina.
It was a much different game than when the two teams met earlier in the season at Red Bay, when Belgreen easily won 46-31. Belgreen Coach Marty Cooper said he knew this matchup was going to be much tougher.
“I am proud of our guys and how hard they fought tonight,” said Cooper.“We faced adversity several times tonight and managed to overcome it.
“I have so much respect for (Red Bay Coach) John (Torisky) and Red Bay’s program,” Cooper added. “They have improved a lot from the first time we met this year, and they have improved since Christmas. I knew we were going to get their best shot.”
That is exactly what happened. From the opening tip, the Red Bay Tigers kept up the defensive intensity – especially on Belgreen seniors Will and Collin Bonner, who typically draw two and sometimes three defenders whenever they touch the ball.
What made the defensive pressure even more impressive was the tough, physical game the Tigers had to play just 24 hours before against Phil Campbell, when they beat the Bobcats 52-42.
“I thought we defended and rebounded well enough to win the game,” said Torisky. “Unfortunately, we turned the ball over too many times late in the game.
“Our defensive intensity is what we have to do to be competitive, and the team has bought into it,” Torisky added. “They are some of the hardest–working kids I have ever coached.”
Still, the Bonner brothers found a way to score their points and get to the free–throw line. Collin led Belgreen with 20 points, and Will followed with 19 points. Will was a perfect seven for seven from the free–throw line and four for four in overtime. Collin was eight for nine from the line and a perfect four for four in overtime.
In the end, that was the key: getting to the line and making the shots.
Belgreen led Red Bay 13-12 at the end of the first quarter, but the Tigers held the advantage at halftime, leading 21-20.
Red Bay held a small advantage – never more than three points – for much of the third quarter. With less than five seconds remaining in the quarter, and Red Bay leading 33-30, Belgreen had to go from one end of the court to the other.
On the in–bounds pass to Will Bonner, the Red Bay coaches were screaming for their team not to foul.
One thing Will Bonner does best is putting defenders in a position to give up an easy basket or foul him. So, Bonner took the in–bounds pass the full length of the court, driving between two defenders – one of whom made contact with Bonner as his shot went up and into the goal. Bonner went to the line to complete the three-point play and tie the game 33-33 at the end of the third quarter.
Belgreen scored two quick baskets to open the fourth quarter and take what was the biggest lead of the game up to that point, 37-33 with 5:54 to go.
Red Bay’s Carson Corum hit a three with 4:56 to go to cut Belgreen’s lead to 37-36. Corum would hit another three to tie the game 39-39 with 2:17 to go in the quarter.
Both teams went the final two minutes without scoring. Belgreen held the ball for the final minute to take a last shot at the win. Will Bonner dribbled the ball around the half–court area and, with less than 10 seconds to go, looked for an opening to the goal.
Red Bay’s defense would not allow him that opening, forcing a three–pointer attempt at the buzzer that did not fall.
After exchanging baskets early in overtime, the game came down to free throws, and the Bonners’ perfection at the line earned Belgreen the win and the championship.
Adrian Reeves followed the Bonners in scoring with five points. Austin James had three points, Canaan Stough two points and Cole King two points.
Corum led Red Bay with 19 points, including five three–pointers, four of which came in the second half. He also scored all six of the Tigers’ points in the fourth quarter.
B.P. Blair and Lawson Glover added seven points each. Andrew Ray scored six points, Landon Glover four points and Cody Carnes two points.
Semifinals: Belgreen 60, Tharptown 42
Belgreen’s Collin Bonner reached a personal milestone on his first basket in the semifinal matchup against the Tharptown Wildcats in the Franklin County Tournament Thursday night. Bonner scored his 1,000th career point as the Bulldogs beat the Wildcats 60-42 to advance to the finals.
Will Bonner led the Bulldogs with 22 points, followed by Collin with 18 points. Hadden Taylor and Reeves scored six points each. Alex Jarnigan added four points. King and James finished the game with two points each.
Dylan Valdez led Tharptown with 19 points. Malachi Minor added eight points, followed by Edwin Vela with seven points, Blake Daily with five points and Jackson Clement with three points.
Semifinals: Red Bay 52, Phil Campbell 42
A relentless full court pressure defense help lift the Red Bay Tigers past the Phil Campbell Bobcats 52-42 in the semifinals of the Franklin County Tournament Friday night.
Red Bay’s full court press and man-to-man defense forced Phil Campbell into several turnovers and poor shot selections late in the game.
Lawson Glover led Red Bay with 17 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. Ray followed with 10 points.
Habada led Phil Campbell with 12 points on four three-pointers. Hyde followed with 10 points.
Quarterfinals: Tharptown 69, Belgreen 23
The Tharptown Wildcats dominated the Vina Red Devils early in the game and held on for an easy 69-23 win in the quarterfinals of the Franklin County Tournament.
Tharptown had four players in double figures: Minor, with 13 points, Luis Valdez with 12 points and Vela and Dylan Valdez with 11 points each.