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Tornadoes funnel three-pointers against Red Level

MOBILE - Two years in a row the Red Level Tigers have advanced to the Southwest Regional only to come face to face with a team that can't miss.

Last year, the Tigers faced the eventual state champions from R.C. Hatch at the regional and fell behind early en route to a loss.

Red Level Head Coach Fred Kelley must have felt a sickening twinge of deja vu Tuesday as Pickens County defeated his Tigers, 59-42.

"This was our third year in a

row down here," Kelley said after the game. "It just seems like we've gotten off to a slow start the past two years."

Pickens County Head Coach Russ Wallace said his team was hot early.

"I thought we got the game under control from the start," Wallace said. "Chris (Lark) had it going early and Brandon (Davis) controlled the basketball game, which you want a senior point guard to do."

The Tigers faced the Pickens County Tornadoes (who lost to R.C. Hatch by two points in five overtime game last season at the regionals) and fell behind early. Every shot the Tornadoes threw up seemed to be guided through the hoop as if an invisible funnel cloud took over control of the ball once it left a player's hands.

The result was a 52.2 percent field goal shooting percentage in the first half, including a 50 percent mark from behind the three-point line.

Another result was a 16-8 lead after one period of play. Chris Lark nailed two three-pointers in the opening quarter to go with one from Marcus Lang and another from Brandon Davis.

In the second period, the Tornadoes continued to spin with Lark hitting another three.

Pickens County outscored Red Level 14-10 in the second quarter for a 30-16 lead at the halftime break.

The third quarter also went to Pickens County as the Tornadoes twisted up and down the court, outscoring the Tigers 15-14.

The big baskets were buried by Lang in the third quarter.

Each time the Tigers would cut into the Tornadoes' lead, Lang canned a three-pointer with two in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Tornado fans got a treat when Lark decided to take his game inside.

Lark flew to the rim for a slam dunk after Frank Tolbert had scored for two and cut the Tornadoes lead to 11 points.

Tolbert answered with a finger roll at the other end and was fouled. He converted the free throw and had the Tigers within striking distance once again.

Red Level trailed by 10 with 6:48 left in regulation.

The Tornadoes did not let the Tigers get any closer in the final period putting together a 12-5 run for a 59-42 win.

Kelley said he was proud of his team for making it to the regional. He said he is especially proud of the six seniors on the team.

"We had a great bunch of seniors and I am real proud of what they have done," he said.

"I am proud of the seniors," Kelley added. "We have six seniors on this team and I am proud of all of them."

Tolbert was the leading scorer for Red Level with 23 points. Will McInvale added 8 points. Tim Ryce scored 7 points. Larry Hudson and Russell Rigdon scored 2 points each.

Lark led all scorers with 27 points. He made 3-of-4 three-pointers in the game. Billy Byrd added 10 for the Tornadoes.