Eagles claim area runner-up in battle until end with Georgiana

Published 3:15 pm Thursday, February 8, 2024

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Georgiana broke away in the second half and held on late for a 62-53 win against Pleasant Home in the 1A Area 3 boys’ championship game on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Vance Kelley goes airborne during a dazzling drive to the hoop for two. Kelley ended the night with nine points for the Eagles.

The Eagles dropped to 18-11 overall for the year. The Panthers pushed their season record to 23-3.

“Our boys played hard but just came up a little bit short. Georgiana is a great team who can win the whole thing. We are fortunate enough to be in the toughest 1A area in Alabama and are still in it as runner-up. I’m banking on the resilience of these guys who are very coachable and hard-nosed. They have been through one of the toughest schedules in 1A basketball, and that has prepared us for the sub-regional and hopefully beyond,” PHS Head Coach Ken Bledsoe said.

Jacobie Morgan opened the game with a three, and Dillan Purifoy went one-of-two at the line. Vance Kelley scored on a fast break and sliced the gap to 7-3. Brody Bryan gave Pleasant Home its first lead at 9-7 with a basket at the 3:47 mark. Noah Nelson and Morgan followed with consecutive threes as two buckets by Kaveon Miles put Georgiana in front 17-9. Purifoy knocked down a triple, while Kelley used a nifty move and made the score 19-16 after one.

Pleasant Home’s Brody Bryan uses his upper body strength during a shot attempt in the first period. Bryan earned eight points in the contest.

Purifoy wasted no time and opened the second period with five points for a 21-19 lead. Kelley took the margin to 23-21 with a basket, but Morgan scored the next seven points. Miles and Jaden Stallworth followed with back-to-back buckets and lifted the Panthers to a 32-23 lead. Purifoy capped the frame with a drive to the hoop and a free throw as the Eagles trailed 34-26 at halftime.

Jackson Hawkins started the scoring in the second half before four points from Stallworth and two by Nasir Cheatham took the margin to 40-28. Bryan earned the next four for Pleasant Home and whittled the hole to 43-32. Hawkins added three more in the third period, and Bryan went off the glass for two. Miles had a drive to the basket as Georgiana maintained a 47-35 lead after three.

Kelley connected on a jumper in the final period, but Miles, Stallworth, and Nelson each found the hoop during a seven-point swing that took the lead to 54-37. Purifoy blistered the net for a three, and Bryan cut the deficit to 56-44 with a move to the hoop. Nelson and Miles kept momentum in the Panthers’ favor with two more field goals for a 62-45 lead. Purifoy added two free throws and a pair of long threes as the Eagles ultimately fell nine points short.

Jackson Hawkins leaps over Georgiana’s Jacobie Morgan during a field goal attempt for Pleasant Home. Hawkins had seven points before an injury in the final period.

Purifoy was the top Pleasant Home scorer with 29 points. Kelley chipped in nine, Bryan added eight, and Hawkins garnered seven. Morgan led Georgiana with 22 points. Stallworth was named tournament MVP and had 18, while Miles also posted double digits at 10.

The All-Tournament Team is as follows:

  • Dillan Purifoy – Pleasant Home
  • Jackson Hawkins – Pleasant Home
  • Kaveon Miles – Georgiana
  • Jacobie Morgan – Georgiana
  • Jaden Stallworth – Georgiana (Tournament MVP)

“I feel a little hurt because I know my team can play better than they did. Our shots were not falling, and we just didn’t have a good game tonight. I expect us to come out harder for our sub-regional game and compete where we can move on to the regionals,” Purifoy said.

Pleasant Home will travel to the Area 4 winner for a sub-regional contest on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 6 p.m.