AREA FINALS: RHS boys triumph, girls fall in semis
The Russellville Golden Tigers are once again area champions. The RHS varsity boys basketball team went on the road and defeated both West Point and Lawrence County on the home court of each to earn the AHSAA Class 5A Area 15 tournament championship.
In the area championship game in Moulton Feb. 11 versus the Lawrence County Red Devils, Russellville navigated through early foul trouble and got a 64-46 win. It was an energetic, balanced and determined performance from multiple players on the roster.
The two teams played to an even 13-13 opening quarter before the Golden Tigers put together a second quarter that outscored LCHS 11-9.
It was the second half when Russellville pulled away for good, outpacing the Red Devils by a 22-13 total in the third period and then outdoing the opponent 18-11 in the fourth.
Russellville was led in scoring by Eli Gipson’s 21 points. Nathan Brockway followed with 19, and Amir Williams also scored in double figures with 10. Conner Warhurst followed with five, Boots McCulloch and Malachi Duncan had four points apiece, and Tilmon Baker scored one.
“On the floor and off the floor, we played with so much togetherness tonight,” said Russellville head coach Patrick Odom. “We overcame a lot of adversity.
“During the first half with the fouls, we didn’t know if we were going to have five guys left,” Odom added. “We stuck to it, and I’m just so proud of them for accomplishing this. Winning on the road twice is hard to do.”
With the win over Lawrence County, the Russellville record on the season improved to 15-11, and the Golden Tigers will now host the Mae Jemison Jaguars in the subregion game in a rematch of this past season’s playoff game in the same round.
“These kids have earned it, and we get to play one more at home,” Odom said. “It is state playoff time, so we’re really looking forward to a tall and tough task against Jemison. We’re excited about it.”
Earlier in the week, the Russellville boys went to West Point for the opening game of the area tourney and got a 58-45 win over the Warriors.
It was win No. 100 for Odom as head coach of the Golden Tigers.
RHS started fast and built a 19-8 first quarter lead. The Golden Tigers held a 28-21 advantage at the half.
After the Warriors battled back to even the score at 36-36 after three quarters of play, Russellville finished strong and outscored the opponent 22-9 in the fourth.
Brockway led RHS with 17 points. McCulloch added 11, and Gipson scored 10. Warhurst had eight, Williams scored six, Vincent had four, and Boyd scored two.
The 2021-22 basketball season came to an end for the Russellville Lady Golden Tigers with a 57-43 loss to Lawrence County in the opening game of the area tournament.
RHS traveled to Moulton Feb. 7 for the contest and trailed 14-10 after the first quarter of action. The Lady Devils grew their lead to 27-19 going into the half and then held a 44-31 advantage after three quarters.
Russellville got scoring from six players. Jacey Moore led the team with 14 points. Ella Copeland followed with 12, and Jenna Whitfield scored eight. Leah Rushing and Jayna Poss added four points each, and Avery Watts scored one.
“They continued to fight the whole night,” said Russellville head coach Jermaine Groce. “I loved their energy and effort, and those girls were dedicated the whole season. We came out and re-established Russellville’s presence in the ladies’ program.
“I’m super-proud of our seniors and the foundation that they laid. Jayna Poss, Leah Rushing and Maddy Green all are just hard-working kids that don’t complain and just do their job, and the other girls bought into that.
“A couple of shots here and there, and maybe we could have advanced,” added Groce, “but hats off to Lawrence County for making it tough.
“The future is definitely exciting. We have a lot of potential and excitement coming back, and I’m interested to see what the future holds.”