ANDY BIRMINGHAM BOUND: Bulldogs knock off Ashford for spot in Final Four

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Andalusia Bulldogs used a spectacular finish to knock off the Ashford Yellow Jackets 52-44 on Wednesday in the Class 4A South Regional championship in Dothan.

Andalusia came out in the opening period and grabbed a 3-0 lead off buckets from Roosevelt Weaver and Ethan Wilson.

The Yellow Jackets then began to surge as they took a 12-5 lead into the second period.

Trey Wilkerson sparked the Bulldogs in the second period with a jumper and then a two-handed jam to cut the Ashford lead down to 14-9.

Trey Wilkerson led the Bulldogs past Ashford in the Class 4A South Regional final.
Josh Dutton/Star-News

Wilkerson then added two more buckets and Keaun Samuel finished off the period with a layup.

At halftime, the Bulldogs trailed 16-15.

Ashford’s LaDarius Knight opened the third period with a big 3-pointer.

Andalusia responded with a layup from Samuel, but the Bulldogs then went ice cold.

Ashford took advantage of several Bulldog miscues as they extended their lead to 32-17 with 1:12 left in the third period.

Wilkerson then took over for the Bulldog offense.

With 52 seconds left in the third, Wilkerson was fouled and went to line for two shots.

Wilkerson hit both free throws and then the Bulldogs forced a quick turnover.

The Bulldogs got the ball to Wilkerson who was fouled again and went back to the free-throw line where he connected on both shots.

Andalusia was in a full-court press defense and forced another turnover from Ashford.

This time Wilson got the ball in the corner and dropped in a 3-pointer to cut the Ashford lead down to 32-24.

Right before the end of the period, Wilkerson was fouled again, and once again sank both free throws.

At the end of the third period, the Bulldogs trailed 32-26.

Ashford got the first bucket of the fourth period, but then the Bulldogs picked up where they left off in the third period.

Samuel continued the Bulldogs’ strong trips to the free-throw line as he knocked home a pair from the charity stripe.

B.J. Anderson followed with a layup to cut the Ashford lead down to 34-30.

Anderson then hit a jumper to trim the lead down the two points.

Ashford had a chance to extend the lead, but missed a pair of free throws.

On the other end of the court, the Bulldogs got the ball to Wilkerson who was all alone in the corner.

Wilkerson’s eyes lit up as he saw no one between him and the basket.

Wilkerson charged down the baseline and slammed home a thunderous dunk to tie the game 34-34 with 5:25 left to play.

Ashford took back the lead with floater from Knight, but the Bulldogs answered right back.

Samuel was fouled while making a layup and then hit his free throw to put Andalusia up 37-36.

Another pair of free throws from Samuel gave the Bulldogs a 39-36 advantage.

A few minutes later, Samuel converted another and-one to put Andalusia up 44-38.

The Bulldogs held off Ashford in the final minutes to earn their first trip to the Final Four since 2009.

Wilkerson led the Bulldogs with 23 points.

Samuel finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Anderson, Samuel, Wilkerson and Wilson were each selected to the All-Tournament team.

Wilkerson was named the tournament’s MVP.

“We’ve been in a situation similar to this in subregionals,” Andalusia head coach Anthony Clark said of the Bulldogs’ comeback win. “Against Catholic we were down 12 in the third quarter. In a time out, I told them we could fold right here or do what we did in subregionals. Thank goodness I got smart and listened to our assistant coaches. Coach (Brad) Goldman and Coach (Monty) Russell were in my ear about us getting into our press and I was a little leery because I thought we looked winded, but they were right. That was a great call by our coaches. We were able to create some turnovers and speed up the game. That was the turning point in the ball game for us.”

Clark said he is excited about the team going to Birmingham for the first time since 2009.

“I was hired at Andalusia two years ago and on day one we talked about this,” Clark said. “We lost last year in the first round to Escambia County. We have the toughest area in the state. Coming into this year, our guys were focused. I’m tickled to death for our program, but I’m tickled to death for the City of Andalusia and for Dr. (Daniel) Shakespeare giving me an opportunity to coach here.”

Andalusia will play Cordova at 4:30 p.m., on Tuesday in Birmingham.