Opp closes season with narrow loss against Hillcrest at regional

Published 1:00 pm Monday, February 20, 2023

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Opp gave a valiant effort but had a late comeback bid fall just short against Hillcrest-Evergreen, 45-42, in the South 3A Boys Regional semi-finals at Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum on Saturday, Feb. 18.

The Jaguars pushed their season record to 19-5 and set up a regional final tilt against Cottage Hill. The Bobcats closed the year with an 18-9 mark.

OHS had the upper hand early and built some momentum in the first period. JaKanye Mount delivered a layup, while Terry Davis followed with a trey for a 5-0 lead at the 6:45 mark. Jermonte Stallworth had two free throws before Davis banked another three. Al’quan Richardson hit a jumper and brought HHS back within four at 8-4. Jabarri Hill and Jakelleus Lane also earned baskets and padded the lead to 12-4 after one.

Lane pushed the margin to 14-4 in the second. Jacob Bradley cut the deficit in half with a three-point play, and Jamarious Barlow added a pair of free throws. Following a foul shot from Colby Ballard, Robert Simpson sank a jumper. AJ Coleman earned the next three points and gave the Bobcats an 18-11 lead until momentum swung the other way thanks to an 8-0 run. Stallworth had back-to-back buckets, and Christian Locke executed a fast break shot to put the Jaguars ahead 19-18 at halftime.

Hill began the third with a basket for a 20-19 lead, but Locke seized control with seven straight points and a 26-20 margin. Ballard blistered the net from downtown, and Hill responded with one to keep the lead at six. Davis trimmed the gap to 29-25 before a free throw and jumper set the score at 32-25 with eight minutes to go.

Coleman caught fire moments into the fourth and brought Opp back to 32-30 after a three and a layup. Hillcrest answered with an 8-1 run and built a 40-31 advantage with 4:31 remaining in the game. OHS refused to let up and received three clutch baskets from Mount. Hill made two free throws and sliced the deficit to 43-39 with 36 seconds left. Coleman made the score 45-42 with a three as HHS held on after two threes in the final six seconds went unsuccessful.

Coleman paced the Bobcats with 12 points. Davis and Mount each collected eight. Locke led the Jaguars with 16 points as Stallworth also had double figures at 11. Bradley notched seven points in the win.