Photo by Ted Melton
Spain Park Basketball
Spain Park's Sarah Ashlee Barker is shown in a game earlier this season.
The Spain Park High School girls basketball team got off to a slow start and never gained any traction in a 56-41 loss to Huffman on Friday night in the final of the Class 7A, Area 6 tournament, hosted by top seed Spain Park.
“They were more physical,” said Spain Park head coach Mike Chase. “They just drove the ball at us. They got offensive rebounds and putbacks. They did a nice job of defending us.”
Huffman got out of the gates strong, holding a 14-7 lead after a quarter of play. On the scoreboard, the second quarter was nearly a repeat of the first, as the Lady Vikings outplayed the Lady Jags once again and held a 28-15 edge at halftime.
Spain Park scored the first few points of the second half, but Huffman quickly regained the momentum and took a 43-25 lead after the third quarter, holding on for the 15-point victory.
Claire Holt led Spain Park with 24 points.
“They looked like a team that played in the Final Four last year,” Chase of the Lady Vikings, who advanced to the 6A state semifinals in 2016.
Both teams were already qualified for the Class 7A Northeast Regional prior to the game, but now know their matchups at Jacksonville State University.
Huffman will play Area 7 runner-up Grissom at 9 a.m. on Thursday, with Spain Park playing Area 7 champ Gadsden City at noon. The winners of those two games will return to Jacksonville State on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 9 a.m. with a spot in the Final Four on the line.
Spain Park has faced Gadsden City twice this season, splitting a pair of games with the Titans. The Lady Jags notched a 55-46 victory on Dec. 1, while Gadsden City won the matchup, 53-44, on Jan. 30.
After rolling through area play with a perfect 6-0 mark, the Lady Jags snuck by No. 4 seed Mountain Brook before losing to Huffman. Chase cited the team’s ability to seize early momentum in a game as a key factor in the Lady Jags’ success, something that they have not been able to grab in the past two games.
“We’re going to rack our brains, look at film and try to figure out if there’s something we can do,” Chase said. “The kids have to take hold of this too.”