Red Level boys edge Florala in tournament title classic

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, December 28, 2023

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A top-ten battle lived up to the hype as Red Level built a big lead and held on for a thrilling 62-61 win over county rival Florala in the Red Level Christmas Tournament boys’ championship on Wednesday, Dec. 27.

Red Level’s Dominic Williams Jr., right, fires a shot from long range as Florala’s Dalton Jackson, left, plays defense.

Both teams battled hard from the start and played close with one another in the opening period. Ben Carroll gave the eighth-ranked Tigers a fast 2-0 lead, but Rayshon Coleman knocked down back-to-back threes and lifted the second-ranked Wildcats to a 6-4 lead. Javen Poindexter and Dominic Williams Jr. collected baskets and changed hands again when the hosts grabbed a 10-6 margin. Noah Bryan drew Florala even at 10-10 until an 8-0 run. Buddy Griffin had two threes in the final minute and helped propel Red Level to an 18-10 lead after one.

Florala pulled within six twice early in the second, and that was as close as it would be for the remainder of the first half. Poindexter and Williams each collected six in the frame, while Griffin buried his third three-pointer. Kolton Barlow got an offensive rebound and pushed the lead to 35-21. Jonathan Neal scored a three on the other end, and Coleman picked up four points in the frame. Red Level increased its lead to 37-23 at halftime.

The Wildcats came roaring back with a 17-point showing in the third and limited their rival to only eight points. Coleman led the charge with 10 points including another pair of threes. Bryan stayed hot from beyond the arc with two three-pointers of his own. Poindexter had three buckets, and Williams had the other as the Tigers saw their lead slip to 45-40 at the end of the third period.

Buddy Griffin, right, follows through on one of his three-pointers for the Tigers against the Wildcats’ Noah Bryan.

After Poindexter began the fourth with a free throw, Coleman tied the score at 46-46 with 6:42 left in the game. Red Level once again had a response to the deadlock and used another eight-point surge to take control. Poindexter had four points as Jamari Brown also found the hoop for two. Griffin had a pull-up jumper and stretched the lead to 54-46 with 4:40 to go. Florala continued its comeback push as Dalton Jackson closed the gap to 56-53 at the 2:39 mark. Neal scored his second three of the frame and gave the Wildcats a 61-59 lead with less than 30 seconds left. Williams cashed in a clutch three as a response with under 10 seconds to go, and the Tigers survived for the wild one-point victory.

Poindexter took top-scoring honors for Red Level (6-4) with 28 points in the win. Williams and Griffin also reached double digits with 15 and 13 points, respectively.

Coleman paced Florala (10-4) with 29 points in the loss, while Bryan followed with 11. Neal and Jackson scored nine and seven points, respectively.

Florala’s Rayshon Coleman, left, blocks a shot attempt by Red Level’s Javen Poindexter, right, during the Red Level Christmas Tourmanent boys’ championship.

The All-Tournament team is as follows:

  • Dominic Williams Jr. – Tournament MVP (Red Level)
  • Javen Poindexter (Red Level)
  • Buddy Griffin (Red Level)
  • Rayshon Coleman (Florala)
  • Noah Bryan (Florala)
  • Kaden Wiggins (Straughn)
  • Taylor Sikes (Straughn)

Florala defeated Straughn (5-8), 57-46, in the first boys’ tournament game on Tuesday, Dec. 26. All three county teams will return from the Christmas break and begin the second half of the season in area matchups. Red Level travels to Georgiana on Tuesday, Jan. 2. Florala travels to Kinston, and Straughn hosts Hillcrest-Evergreen with those two contests on Thursday, Jan. 4.