WIN IT FOR WHITTAKER: Florala sinks Choctaw County with late rally in regional semi-finals

Published 11:00 am Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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Playing with heavy hearts, Florala used a 26-point final period and rallied past Choctaw County, 48-43, in the South 1A Boys Regional semi-finals at Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum on Monday, Feb. 20.

FHS moved to 22-7 in the team’s first game since principal Max Whittaker passed away and advanced to the South Regional championship Thursday, Feb. 23, for a fourth matchup with Brantley (27-3) at 1:45 p.m. CCHS closed the year with a 14-8 record.

Neither team was able to find the basket in the opening two minutes of the contest. Christian Greasham made a layup with 5:55 remaining in the first before Dalton Jackson had a free throw just over a minute later. Elijah McMeans gave the Wildcats a 5-0 lead with a jumper. Jamorris Williams put the Tigers on the board with a basket, but Greasham followed suit and stretched the lead to 7-2. De’marterion Gordon had two field goals, and a foul shot by Williams forced a 7-7 tie after one.

Gordon opened the second with a quick bucket as CCHS took its first lead of the game at the 6:54 mark. Greasham responded right back and swished a jumper. The two sides continued to go back and forth with alternating baskets. Jackson went one-of-two from the line before McMeans drew FHS even at 13-13 with 1:40 to go until the break. A three from Jerome Blanks and a two by Tyshawn Carlisle pushed the advantage to five. Jonathan Neal cut the halftime deficit down to 18-16 with a late three-pointer.

After Williams made it a four-point lead 12 seconds into the second half, Rayshon Coleman brought Florala within two. A dunk from Williams and a free throw by Deontae Carradine pushed the margin to 23-18. Coleman sank two from the charity stripe before an 8-2 run led Choctaw County to a 31-22 lead with eight minutes to go.

McMeans sliced the deficit to seven with an opening layup, but Ronnie James had two free throws for a 33-24 lead. Coleman delivered a 7-0 run and made the score 33-31 with 5:17 left in the fourth. Two free throws by Greasham brought the gap down to one until Williams went two-of-two at the line and pushed the lead to 41-37. Jackson then hit a jumper as Coleman tied it at 41-41 with a pair of foul shots. Carradine used a driving layup for a 43-41 advantage, but that was the final time CCHS scored. Coleman scored five in the final minute, while McMeans iced the game for FHS with the final two points.

Coleman was the top scorer for the Wildcats with 22 points. McMeans and Greasham were next with nine and eight, respectively. Jackson tallied six as Neal had three in the win. Williams paced the Tigers with 13 points in the loss.