The Tigers march into Birmingham

Published 7:23 pm Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Brice Scott capped the game with a thunderous dunk.

Brice Scott capped the game with a thunderous dunk.

The Straughn Tigers punched their ticket to the Final Four in Birmingham with a thrilling 66-52 win over the St. James Trojans Wednesday in the South Regional championship in Dothan.


The Trojans were the first to get on the scoreboard when Jalen Harris got basket under the goal to start the contest.


Tucker Lawless tied the game up 30 seconds later with a layup.


The Tigers took the lead when Marshall Farley got a steal at mid-court and dished the rock to Brice Scott for an easy layup.


It didn’t take long for the Trojans to respond, and retake the lead. Card Everett hit 3-pointer to take a 5-4 lead with five minutes left in the first.


Scott answered the Trojans’ 3-pointer with a 3-ball of his own to put the Tigers back up 7-5.


Jaylen McCoy then hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Trojans an 11-7 lead with four minutes left in the opening period. Everett put the Trojans up 12-7 after going 1-for-2 on a trip to the free throw line.


The Tigers pounced back with back-to-back 3-pointers from Johnathan Driver and Scott that put the Tigers back up 13-12.


The lead changed hands again when McCoy put the Trojans up with a layup.


The Tigers took the lead back moments later as Farley knocked down a jumper from the around 10 feet out. Farley’s shot put the Tigers up 15-14 heading into the second period.


Scott opened up the second period with a 3-pointer that put the Tigers up 18-14.


Rollin Kinsaul put the Tigers up 19-14 following a 1-for-2 trip to the free throw line.


The Tigers went up 21-14 after Lawless knocked down 2-of-2 from the free throw line.


The Tigers continued to pour it on the Trojans to open the second, when Brice Scott extended the lead to 23-14 with a short jumper.


Kinsaul added 2 more points off a layup to push the Tigers’ lead to 25-14.


Farley then knocked down both ends of a 1-and-1 opportunity. With Farley’s free throws, the Tigers capped a 12-0 run to start the second period.


The Trojans’ first points of the second period came from McCoy who hit a pair of free throws to put the Trojans down 27-16 with three minutes left in the second period.


The Tigers answered when Driver hit Scott alone under the basket. Scott converted the easy layup to put the Tigers up 29-16 with 1:30 left in the period.


Everett cut the lead to 10 points with a 3-pointer with 40 seconds left. Following a turnover by the Tigers, Stephen Sadie cut the lead to 7 points with a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left.


The Tigers inbounded the ball, and Farley wound up with ball near half court. Farley hurled a shot toward the basket, and to the delight of the Tiger faithful, the shot went in. The Tigers led 32-22 heading into halftime.


The Trojans opened up the third period with 2 points from Kendall Moore, and then McCoy hit 1-of-2 from the free throw line.


Scott put the first points in of the second half for the Tigers with a strong drive to basket, and finished with a layup.


Harris hit a pair of free throws that cut the Tigers lead to 34-27 with just over six minutes left in the third period.


Both teams went cold for the next four minutes before Everett connected on a 2-pointer with two minutes left in the period.


Lawless got a point off a free throw, and the Tigers led 35-29 with less than two minutes left in the period.


McCoy used the 3-ball again to dig into the Tigers’ lead.


Kinsaul went to free throw line with one minute left in the period and hit both free throws to help extend the lead for the Tigers.


McCoy was on fire from behind the arc, and knocked home another 3-pointer that cut the Tigers’ lead down to 37-35.


Driver put the Tigers’ lead back up to 4 points with a drive straight down the lane and to the basket.


With three seconds left in the period, Harris got a bucket from down low. Harris’s shot brought the Tigers’ lead down to 39-37 heading into the final period.


The Trojans came out with more 3-pointers in the fourth period, and took a 40-39 lead off a 3-pointer from Everett.


Driver put the Tigers back out front another layup.


The lead changed hands again when Everett knocked down another 3-pointer with 5:36 left in the contest.


The Tigers tied the game up with 5:07 on the clock off a beautiful jumper from Farley in the corner.


It was Driver again up put the Tigers back up with another strong finish around the basket.


Harris tied the game 45-45 with less than four minutes left in the game. It was the last time the Trojans would be tied or have the lead over the Tigers.


Once again it was Driver who put the Tigers back in the lead with a 2-for-2 trip to the free throw line. Driver’s free throws put the Tigers up 47-45 with 3:08 left to play.


Lawless pushed the lead up to 4 points with a basket from under the goal.


Scott stretched the lead to 6 points with a 2-for-2 trip to the free throw line.


The Tigers forced an errant shot on the other end of the court, and Scott marched back down the floor and put in another basket to give the Tigers a 53-45 lead with 1:45 left in the game.


McCoy gave the Trojans 2 more points off a pair of free throws, but the Trojans trailed 53-47 with 1:32 left.


Farley and Scott each hit two free throws that put the Tigers up 57-49 with 1:15 left in the contest.


Harris got another basket under the goal with 1:06 left on the clock.


Scott received the ball on the inbounds pass and was promptly fouled. Scott sank both attempts from the free throw line.


With 41 seconds left, Lawless got an old-fashioned 3-point play that put the Tigers up 62-49.


Harris had the final points of the contest for the Trojans with another 3-pointer.


Lawless had to more points in the final 20 seconds, and Scott put the icing on the cake with a thunderous dunk just before the buzzer sounded to give the Tigers a 66-52 regional championship victory.


Harris led the Trojans with 27 points. Everett finished with 15 points, and Harris accounted for 8 points.


“We are a close bunch,” Kinsaul said. “There has been a lot of hard work that has gone into us getting here, and not just from this season. Most of us have been playing ball together since we were 5 years old. This is awesome. It’s like a dream come true. It was great win for us and the school. We have the best student section in the state. They always support us no matter what.”


Scott led the Tigers with 27 points. Lawless had 12 points. Farley and Driver each finished with 11 points. As a team, the Tigers shot 19-for-20 from the free throw line.


“This is a really good group of guys,” Scott said. “Not just the guys that get the playing time. It’s those guys on the bench that push us during practice, and help us get better.”


Tucker Lawless and Brice Scott were named to the 4A All-Tournament team. Scott was also named Tournament MVP.


“This is the first time we have reached the final four since I’ve been here,” Tigers’ head coach Rusty Andrews said. “We laid everything on the line today, and I couldn’t be more proud of this entire team than I am right now. This group’s journey started three years ago, and their hard work and effort is final starting to pay off. We know we aren’t the biggest or the most athletic team, but you won’t find a team with a bigger heart.”


The Tigers will now travel to Birmingham on Tues. Feb. 24, for the AHSAA class 4A Final Four. The Tigers will face the winner between Westminster Christian and White Plains.