Straughn takes tourney title

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Allan George looks to move to the basket.

Allan George looks to move to the basket.

The Straughn Tigers and the Andalusia Bulldogs battled it out Saturday night for the 49th Annual Andalusia Invitation tournament championship, with the Tigers holding off the Bulldogs for a 46-42 victory.

Straughn started the game by running as much time off the clock as they possible could. Gage Barber got the first bucket off the game off an assist from Johnathon Driver and then Jarvaris Samuel added a layup off a steal to give Straughn a 4-0 with 4:13 left in the first period.

After forcing a miss from the Bulldogs, the Tigers continued to bleed to clock while searching for the perfect shot, and Driver found it with a 3-pointer to put Straughn up 7-0.

Andalusia responded with a 3-pointer of their own from sophomore R.J. Drish to make it 7-3 with 2:05 left in the first.

The Bulldogs then came up with a steal and tried to cut deeper into the lead with a shot under the basket, but Straughn’s Allan George leapt through the air and swatted the ball, sending it sailing out of bounds.

Andalusia kept their focus on the ensuing inbound pass, which ended with B.J. Anderson knocking down a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 7-6 with 45 seconds left in the opening period.

Barber got a tip in for the Tigers just before the buzzer sounded to put Straughn on top 9-6 heading into the second period.

Straughn opened up the second period with the same patient approach that they started the game with. They continued to run through their motions on offense until the perfect shot presented itself. This time it was Cole Harris who found himself with a wide-open 3-pointer, putting Straughn up 12-6.

Ian Peek got Andalusia’s first basket of the second period with a strong jumper from the corner to cut the Tigers’ lead down to 12-8.

Andalusia’s defense started putting pressure on the Tigers’ offense, no longer allowing them to just hold the ball waiting for something to open up. The pressure forced a turnover that B.J. Anderson picked up and headed to the other end of the court, but was fouled as he went up for a layup. Anderson knocked down the ensuing free throws to make it a 12-10 game with 4:04 left before halftime.

Anderson quickly forced another turnover and was once again fouled as he tried for a layup, and once again Anderson knocked down both free throws to tie the game at 12-12.

The Bulldogs’ defense continued to swarm and forced an errant shot from the Tigers, and then on the other end of the court, Anderson got a tip in to give Andalusia their first lead of the game at 14-12.

Straughn quickly answered back with Driver sprinting down the court for a fast-break layup to tie the game at 14.

With 40 seconds left before halftime, Trevor Parker put the Bulldogs back on top with a deep 3-pointer for a 17-14 halftime lead.

Jaxon Rudolph got the Bulldogs on the board first in the third period by muscling his way to big offensive rebound and putting it straight back up for a 19-14 Andalusia lead.

Driver then cut the lead down to 19-16 with a smooth jumper from the top of the key. Harris then knotted the game up at 19-19 with a big 3-pointer, and George followed with a pair of free throws to give Straughn back the lead at 21-19.

Rudolph followed with a strong layup for the Bulldogs to tie the game back up with 4:40 left in the third period.

Straughn quickly moved the ball down the floor and into the paint for what looked to be an easy short jumper to take the lead back, but Peek came flying in at the last moment and sent the shot flying into wall with huge block.

Peek’s block led to a scoring opportunity for the Bulldogs and Anderson buried a shot from downtown to give Andalusia a 24-21 lead with 3:30 left in the third.

Driver had a chance to tie the game after being fouled with hitting a layup, but the free-throw attempt just missed leaving Straughn down by one. It didn’t take the Tigers long though to take the lead back, as Harris converted a contested layup to put Straughn up 25-24 with 3:00 left in the third.

A few seconds later, Anderson hit 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game up at 25-25.

The Tigers used patients once again on their next offensive possession and Harris found an opening in the defense for another 3-pointer to put Straughn up 28-25 with 1:02 left in the third. A layup from the Tigers with 25 seconds left in the period, to give Straughn a 30-25 lead heading into the final frame.

Straughn opened up the fourth with big points from George and Driver to put the Tigers up 34-25.

Andalusia wasn’t going away quietly, and a 3-pointer from Drish made it a 34-28 game.

After a couple of defensive stops, Anderson came up with a layup and 3-pointer to cut Straughn’s lead down to 34-33 with 4:50 left in the game.

Straughn responded with three-straight scores from Driver, George and Keaun Samuel to put the Tigers up 40-33.

Anderson kept the Bulldogs’ chances alive when converted an old-fashioned 3-point play with and-1 opportunity.

After Straughn missed a one-and-one attempt, James Montgomery cut the Tiger lead down to 40-38 with an impressive layup while drawing major contact. Montgomery’s free-throw attempt, however, missed the mark, leaving it a two-point game.

After exchanging free throws, the Bulldogs got the ball back with 46.8 seconds left in the game trailing 42-40, but the Tiger defense just wouldn’t allow for the Bulldogs an easy shot.

Straughn closed out the game going 6-for-6 at the free throw line to help give them a 46-42 win.

“We played really hard,” Straughn head coach Rusty Andrews said. “We did a great job rebound all night and there at the end of the game we really handled their pressure well. Slowly but surely, we are starting to grow. There is still plenty of room for us to grow, but we are getting better with every game. The hardest thing about coaching basketball is getting your team to peak at the right time.”

Anderson led the way for the Bulldogs with a game-high 25 points.

Driver led the Tigers with 15 points and Harris finished the night with 11 points. For his efforts during the tournament, Driver was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

Along with Driver, Straughn added Allan George to the All-Tournament team. Trevor Parker and B.J. Anderson were selected to the All-Tournament team for Andalusia. Red Level’s Jeffery Perdue, Devon Dexter and Opp’s Devontae Williams were also named to the All-Tournament team. Elba’s Brosnan Cooks and Hillcrest’s Kobe Bradley were also included in the All-Tournament team.