AHS makes regional final

Published 9:35 pm Thursday, February 19, 2009

TROY – Andalusia coach Richard Robertson had only positive things to say about his team’s 77-71 win over Brewbaker Tech Thursday at the South Regional tournament in Troy.

“For the most part, we got accomplished the things we were trying to get accomplished,” Robertson said. “I told the guys before we got here that they were going to have a plan for us. We knew it was going to be a tough ball game, but we almost self-destructed and we’ve got to do something about that.”

Robertson was alluding to the two technical fouls called on Andalusia’s Brandon Sims and Derrick King in the second quarter.

“We persevered and if someone beats us I want it to be because someone is better than we are, not because we did it to ourselves,” Robertson said about the technical fouls. “That still holds true. They responded the best that they know how. We’re not young anymore because our seniors are one game away from their career being over. Our juniors are seniors, our sophomores are juniors and our freshmen are sophomores.”

It remained tight in the first quarter as both teams went back and forth in making shots from the court.

The Bulldogs managed to get to a 14-8 lead when Sims put in a layup with less than two minutes remaining in the first.

Andalusia’s Nico Johnson, who helped lead his team in scoring Thursday with 20 points, got a steal on Tech’s next possession and passed the ball to Leslie James who put in a layup with 1:25 left in the first.

That would only help the Bulldogs (25-2) in their quest to defeat the Rams as they took a 22-13 lead going into the second quarter.

Brewbaker Tech then got an impact from its two key players, Giovanni Smith and Justin Patton, who both put up 3-pointers to cut into the Bulldogs’ lead early.

The Bulldogs held a 51-45 lead going into the fourth quarter and Brewbaker Tech came out not wanting to quit.

The Rams cut it close with 2:22 left when Smith put in a field goal to put Andalusia’s lead by four points, 66-62.

Free throws at this point carried both teams to the finish as the score went back and forth until a layup by Brewbaker Tech’s John Dixon brought his team within one point of a tie.

Then, Andalusia’s Quayshaun Denson was fouled and he hit a free throw to give his team a two-point edge.

A missed free throw by Tech’s Smith widened Andalusia’s chance to win the game.

On the next two times at the free throw line, Andalusia’s Nico Johnson and Denson both were 2-for-2 at the line, which gave the Bulldogs the win.

“We’ve worked on free throws enough that they came through today,” Robertson said. “We missed some at times, but for the most part that bailed us out.”

Andalusia was 13-for-18 at the free throw line Thursday.

Andalusia’s Nico Johnson said he was “relieved” to make those free throws when he did.

“It was a relief,” Johnson said. “I was thinking about not missing it the whole time and just not letting my teammates down.”

Robertson said that he is proud to be advancing to the regional finals and that he believes his team can overcome the hurdle that awaits.

“We haven’t been (to the state finals) since 2001 and we’ve come close a number of times,” he said. “I’ve been a bridesmaid a number of times in my career and I’m just hoping we can complete it. I just wish we had more time to prepare for Saturday, but we’ll have one more day to get prepared and we’re proud to still be playing.”

The leading scorers for Andalusia were Denson with 21 points, Johnson with 20 and Sims with 15.

Andalusia will play B.C. Rain (19-5) on Saturday in Trojan Arena at Troy University in the Class 4A South Regional finals. Tip off is at 2 p.m.