24 YEARS IN THE MAKING: Florala handles Brantley by 12 for South Regional title

Published 11:00 am Friday, February 24, 2023

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For the first time in 24 years, Florala is headed to the AHSAA State Finals after taking down Brantley, 58-46, in the South 1A Boys Regional championship at Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum on Thursday, Feb. 23.

South Regional MVP Rayshon Coleman, left, splits three Brantley defenders on his way to the hoop for two points. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

The Wildcats improved to 23-7 on the year and set up a meeting against defending champion Covenant Christian on Monday, Feb. 27, at 10:30 a.m. at Birmingham’s Legacy Arena. The Bulldogs ended the year with a 27-4 record and two of the four losses coming to Florala.

Jayden Bradberry works on offense for the Wildcats against Jordan Parks of the Bulldogs. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

Lorey Bogen Jr. gave BHS a quick 2-0 lead until Elijah McMeans tied the score with a layup. After another basket from Bogen, Rayshon Coleman evened the action at 4-4. Jayden Bradberry knocked down a three-pointer for a 7-4 lead that stood for the rest of the game. Layups from Dalton Jackson and Christian Greasham stretched the lead to 12-5. Bogen managed a three with 1:08 left in the first, but McMeans executed a layup and gave FHS a 16-8 lead with eight minutes complete.

Brantley opened the second with two free throws and a tip-in by Janyles Tyson to cut the deficit to 16-12. Florala then broke away with a 12-2 run and seized all momentum for a 28-14 lead. Coleman had three free throws during the offensive surge and capped the blistering run with a thunderous dunk. Kedrick Brown went two-for-two from the line. Coleman kept up his hot shooting with a four-of-four showing at the charity stripe in the final 30 seconds. Robert Shine had a layup as time expired, but the halftime score stood at 32-19.

Florala’s Elijah McMeans executes a strong drive to the basket against Brantley’s Lorey Bogen Jr. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

The offense cooled off for the Wildcats with only six in the third period. Coleman had a layup and another dunk, while Jackson managed the team’s other bucket. Jon Kilcrease cut the deficit to 36-22 with a three, and Shine used a layup. Baskets by Brown and Daylan Davis closed the margin to 10 points. Brown sank two free throws as the Bulldogs forced a single-digit deficit at 38-30 after three.

Christian Greasham, right, goes up for a shot against two defenders. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

BHS was able to get the contest down to six on two occasions early in the fourth but could not draw any closer. Coleman took the lead back to 11 with a three-point play at the 4:44 mark of the final frame. Brown responded in the same manner and whittled the gap to 47-39. Three foul shots by Jackson and Landon Prescott along with a layup from Greasham pushed the margin to 52-39. Greasham and Coleman continued the scoring for FHS, while Bogen scored the final seven points of the game.

Coleman, who was named regional MVP, finished with 29 points for Florala in the win. Greasham also scored double digits with 10 and followed by Jackson and McMeans at six. Bogen and Brown were the top two Brantley with 17 and 16 points, respectively, in the loss.