Bulldogs advance to state finals

Published 11:59 pm Monday, February 23, 2009

TROY — B.C. Rain’s Justin Edwards missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer against Andalusia Saturday, giving the Bulldogs a 64-61 win and the Class 4A South Regional title.

After getting a clear opening, Edwards stepped back behind the 3-point line and shot the ball, which bounced off the rim shortly before the final buzzer to give No. 1 Andalusia a close win over the No. 9 Red Raiders.

Andalusia (26-2) will face No. 7 Anniston tomorrow at the Class 4A state semifinals in Birmingham at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex at 1:30 p.m.

“I really wasn’t expecting (the shot), but I knew he was going to pass it,” Edwards said. “I think I didn’t set my feet right.”

Andalusia’s Nico Johnson helped lead his team to the victory with 21 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks Saturday afternoon.

“It’s been my dream (to go to the state finals) because my sister and oldest brother all have been to Birmingham,” Johnson said. “My sister won it and my brother came close. It means a lot.

“We just worked hard and we’re going to continue to keep working,” he said.

Edwards made a layup with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter to cut Andalusia’s lead to 62-61.

With 23.9 seconds left, Andalusia’s O’Brien Curry scored the final layup for his team. B.C. Rain’s Ronnie Thurman had a chance to bring his team closer, but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw situation.

After Thurman’s 1-and-1, Curry was fouled and missed the two free throws to keep the score at 64-61.

“We didn’t play exactly the way we were supposed to,” Andalusia coach Richard Robertson said. “We made too many mistakes. I knew it was going to be a tough ball game.”

Robertson said the game was “tough” Saturday, but it’s only going to get harder this week.

“We knew that it was going to be tough and it’s going to be tough next week,” Robertson said. “So, that’s why you can’t beat yourselves.

“I knew they were going to make it a fast tempo game,” he said. “Whoever we’re going to play now, if they don’t have a fast tempo, they’ll have one by Wednesday. People have had success doing that. Eufaula did it and Calera did it.”

Brandon Sims also had a strong performance for the Bulldogs, finishing with 23 points and seven rebounds.

Andalusia took an 18-11 lead after the first quarter and added an additional 17 points in the second to go into halftime with a 35-31 lead.

B.C. Rain (19-6) came out in the third quarter and scored the first six points to take a two-point lead.

Andalusia quickly answered and added an additional 16 points to go into the fourth quarter leading 51-47.

Edwards led B.C. Rain with 13 points.

“It was more like a see-saw battle throughout the game,” B.C. Rain coach Willie Burns said. “When we thought we had gathered the momentum that would give us a push, Andalusia came back with an answer.

“We made some mistakes sometimes over passing and not taking the shots we should have taken to give us that extra boost,” he said. “The kids played hard and they gave it all they could give.”