Red Level’s heartbreak

Published 11:21 pm Friday, February 24, 2012

Red Level's Troy Nolen dishes the ball out to the perimeter Friday night in his team's 68-46 loss to No. 1 Barbour County.

MOBILE — Red Level didn’t want its season to end on Friday night, but top-ranked and undefeated Barbour County turned the tables on the Tigers to claim a 68-46 victory in the Class 2A boys South Regional Tournament finals at the Mitchell Center on the University of South Alabama’s campus in Mobile.

Red Level couldn’t handle the Jaguars’ press from the start, and trailed 23-10 after the first period and 32-19 at half time.

“They’re a good team,” an emotional RLS coach Allen Catrett said about BCHS. “We knew coming in how good they were and with the standards that they play. They’re undefeated and that’s impressive.

“I felt like we turned the ball over too much and it was the fundamental stuff,” he said. “We threw passes that were too slow.”

Barbour County’s strong outside presence was the difference in the first half as the Jaguars shot 7-of-17 from the perimeter. BCHS (32-0) shot five of its seven 3-pointers in the first period.

RLS committed 25 turnovers in the game, compared to Barbour County’s 12.

Red Level’s Dee Tolbert, who finished with nine points, nailed two treys in the first to give the Tigers a spark in the first period.

The Tigers made some adjustments for the second period and played the Jaguars even at 9-9 going into half time.

In the second period, Troy Nolen got a jumper to cut the game to 23-12 at the start, and the Tigers trailed 26-14 later on a pass from Spencer Stallworth to Justin Maddox for an easy bucket.

Tolbert added another trey and KJ Lawrence made two free throws for RLS at the end of the first half.

The Tigers were led by Raheem Bullock, who had 12 points. Bullock stared the second half with a 3-point play and later scored on drives that kept some life for Red Level, whose fans were in high attendance at the game.

However, Barbour County struck back and took a 41-24 lead mid-way through the third period on a drive from Willie Eutsey, who had 19 points and was one of three Jaguars who finished in double figures. Tournament most valuable player Takwain Whigham led the Jaguars with 21 points, and Nicholas Johnson had 18.

Later on in the third period, Eutsey helped the Jaguars put the game away on a dunk with 1:32 left.

“We played hard,” Catrett said. “Their pressure defense got us out of sync offensively.”

Red Level trailed 48-29 at the end of the third period, and BCHS started the fourth period with a 7-0 run that was ended by an alley-oop dunk from Eutsey.

The Tigers stayed in it and never gave up in the end.

After a timeout with 6:21 left in the game, RLS hoped for a designed play where James Feagin would dunk the ball to help ignite the team.

Bullock picked up the scoring late in the fourth period after Feagin’s missed dunk to score six of Red Level’s last 12 points with 5:12 left in the game.

Catrett said it was a successful season and that he was happy to see how much the players loved the game.

“I appreciate all of them that I had,” he said about the seniors. “They bought into it and played hard. We started the season off 5-6, and then the rest of the season, we went 18-5.

“It was a successful season,” he said. “We didn’t go as far as we wanted to. That’s how life is. Sometimes life will knock you down, but you’ve got to get right back up. I hate that the boys have to feel the way they do with the loss. It’s going to hurt.”

Feagin, Lawrene and Tolbert also made the all-tournament team.

Nolen chipped in 11 points and six rebounds. Lawrence added six points and nine rebounds.

The Tigers finished 23-11 on the season.