Vestavia VS Hoover Boys Basketball
Action from a basketball game between Vestavia and Hoover on January 17, 2017 at Vestavia High School.
A 17-2 run at the end of the second quarter gave Class 7A No. 2 Hoover (22-4, 5-0 Area 5) the jolt it needed to buzz past Tuscaloosa County, 57-36, at home Tuesday night.
The pivotal stretch transformed a 15-15 tie into a 32-17 Hoover halftime edge. The Bucs led by at least 10 points the rest of the way.
"I think that was the game -- that one big spurt -- and I think we kind of coasted from there," said Hoover boys basketball coach Charles Burkett.
Ahman Ellington and Justin Rumph keyed the Bucs' decisive run. The duo accounted for 15 of the 17 points and went a combined 5 for 5 from the free-throw line during that stretch. Rumph finished with a game-high 15 points; Ellington had 13.
A layup from Tuscaloosa County's Bo Evans pulled the Wildcats within 10 midway through the third quarter, but a 9-1 Hoover run to close the frame put the game out of reach.
Matthew Rickman came off the bench and swished a buzzer-beating 3 from the left wing to give Hoover a 48-30 lead heading into the final quarter.
Burkett said he was impressed by the collective play of his non-starters. Even with a comfortable cushion, he said, they did not relent.
"They played well, and we rewarded them with extra minutes because they deserved it," Burkett said.
Tuesday marked Hoover's second victory of the season against Tuscaloosa County. The Bucs also won the first area meeting, 58-54, on Jan. 13.
Hoover will attempt to close out area play undefeated when it hosts Vestavia Hills on Friday.
It wasn't the blowout the game's first quarter suggested it could be, but Class 7A No. 2 Hoover (21-6, 5-0 Area 5) still hummed past 7A No. 7 Tuscaloosa County (20-5,3-2 Area 5) 53-43.
The Lady Bucs led 19-3 after the opening frame, then extended that lead to 29-10 midway through the second quarter. Tuscaloosa County, however, didn't buckle completely. The Wildcats ended the half on an 8-0 run before pulling even closer in the third quarter. They reduced Hoover's edge to 39-32 entering the final frame.
That's when Hoover girls basketball coach Krystle Johnson told her team it "needed to play with some energy."
The Lady Bucs did, and it enabled them to finish what they started three quarters prior.
"I don't think we had energy the entire game. It was almost like we thought because of that 19-point lead the game was over," Johnson said. "I mean, honestly, I think we just got away with a win, because we didn't play like we were trying to win that game."
Eboni Williams dropped in eight of her game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter. All eight came on second- or third-chance layups that Williams rolled in after snagging an offensive rebound. For much of the night, she dominated the paint.
"Sometimes we need her to just take over a game," Johnson said. "That's something that we're trying to stress to her as we go towards playoffs -- that she needs to take over -- because she's clearly the best player on the court, most athletic person on the court, and she needs to show that every time."
Jennifer Andrew added eight points for the Lady Bucs. Six of those came in the first quarter.
Like the boys, this was the team's second victory against Tuscaloosa County. The Lady Bucs won the teams' first area meeting, 54-41, Jan. 13. They will look to close out area play undefeated against Vestavia Hills.