Photo by Frank Couch.
Hoover’s Jamari Blackmon had 29 points in the Bucs’ season finale. Hoover’s season ended with a 16-19 mark, as the Bucs played a schedule packed with juggernauts with a team that lost nine seniors from its 2015 state champion squad.
Hoover and Spain Park saw otherwise extremely successful seasons on the hardwood end in overtime disappointment at the Final Four.
Both fell in the Class 7A Boys State Semifinals on March 3 in a pair of contests that were down to the wire.
It took double overtime, but McGill-Toolen had just enough in the tank to top Hoover, 77-74.
The game would not have reached that point without the heroics of Hoover’s Jamari Blackmon, who scored a game-high 29 points in a standout performance. The sophomore guard drove and scored at the buzzer in the first overtime period to tie the game.
“Coach just told me to create space for myself and I did, and I was able to knock down the shot,” Blackmon said of his shot to force double overtime.
The Bucs held an early edge in the second overtime, extending the lead to four before Scott took over. An offensive play went awry late, and forced them to foul Scott. Hoover had one last shot to tie it, but it came up just short.
“I’m so thankful and grateful for our kids to have this experience,” Hoover head coach Charles Burkett said. “They’ve worked so hard to get to this point … It was a wonderful ride.”
Hoover’s season ended with a 16-19 mark, as the Bucs played a schedule packed with juggernauts with a team that lost nine seniors from its 2015 state champion squad.
Burkett said, “It was not as much of a Cinderella as people think. There were so many tough teams and we had to grow with minimal experience.”
The Bucs will miss the contributions of another strong senior class, consisting of Jaylan Gaither, Srihari Prahadeeswaran, Kevy Eason, Anthony Jefferson, Robbie Cohen, Wes Banks and Johnathan Postell.
Spain Park stormed back in the fourth quarter to force overtime in its game, but fell just short in a 63-61 loss to Central-Phenix City. The Jags finished 23-10 under first-year head coach Donnie Quinn.
“Both teams laid it out there, and they made one more (play).” Quinn said following the game.
The fact that the game made it to overtime is a testament to the resilience shown by Spain Park in the second half. Central-Phenix City took off with a ten-point lead early in the fourth quarter, as Jamal Johnson was on the bench with four fouls.
Johnson returned to the floor, and helped the Jags erase that deficit in just over two minutes. The run happened right after an 11-0 burst from Central. The Jags’ 16-2 run gave them a four-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Johnson picked up his fourth foul with 2:52 left in the third quarter, but returned in the final minute of the period. He led the team with 20 points to go along with nine boards and four steals.
The junior point guard played with that fourth foul until picking up a controversial charging foul driving to the basket late in the overtime period.
Wiley and Justin Brown each eclipsed a double-double for the game. Wiley picked up 19 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks, while Brown scored 15 and grabbed 10 boards.
Spain Park will say goodbye to three seniors in Brown, Jameson Floyd and Bailey Defalco.