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Tharptown sweeps Hackleburg

PHIL CAMPBELL — The Tharptown Wildcats and Lady Wildcats swept Hackleburg Monday night at Northwest-Shoals Community College in Phil Campbell.

The Lady Wildcats opened up varsity play with a 54-47 win over their area opponent, and the varsity boys cruised to an 81-44 win over the Panthers.

The Lady Wildcats are looking to win Class 1A Area 13 like last year, and the Hackleburg Lady Panthers are one of the teams standing in Tharptown’s way.

Neither team backed down from the challenge, and before the final buzzer sounded Tharptown had pulled out a narrow seven-point win in a game that featured seven lead changes.

The Lady Wildcats jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the first before Hackleburg went ahead at 12-11.

This was the first of five lead changes before halftime, but it was Tharptown that took a slim 28-26 lead into the dressing room at halftime.

Several of Tharptown’s starters had to sit on the bench for some or much of the third quarter in order to keep them on the court at the end of the game.

“We got into some foul trouble,” Tharptown head coach Chad Green said. “Danielle [Creasy] had four fouls and Kamri [Sears] had three, so we had to sit them some in the third quarter.”

The Lady Panthers took their last lead of the contest towards the beginning of the fourth quarter at 39-37.

From that point on Tharptown went on a 17-8 run that won them the game.

“It feels good to pick up an area win,” Green said. “We have to play Vina tomorrow night [Tuesday], and they are the only other area team we haven’t played yet.”

Sears led the Lady Wildcats in point with 20 and rebounds with 7 on the night.

Creasy added 13 points and 6 rebounds while Jessica Wilson totaled 8 points and 3 boards.

Also scoring for Tharptown were: Kathy Alfaro (5), Kassy Baker (3), Haley Malone (3) and Kaitlyn Vandiver.

The Tharptown varsity boys’ game featured four lead changes of its own but a much more lopsided score line.

The Wildcats and Panthers traded points early on in the first quarter and into the second, with Tharptown having a 20-15 advantage at the start of the second period.

The Wildcats had a 32-28 lead just a few minutes before intermission when everything started working for them on offense and defense.

Tharptown went on a 17-0 run that spanned the remainder of the second quarter and the early goings of the third before Hackleburg added to its total again.

By that time the Wildcats were up 51-30, spelling the beginning of the end for the Panthers in the Class 1A Area 13 match.

Riley Nolen had a huge game for Tharptown, scoring 27 points and picking up 3 boards and one block.

“Riley played well,” Tharptown head coach Jonathan Odom said. “He broke out tonight. He did a good job shooting and getting rebounds.

Kelby Hallmark helped contribute to Nolen’s point total (and other teammates) with 10 assists in the game, including a no-look pass that set Nolen up for an open three-pointer. Hallmark also added 7 points to the Wildcats’ total.

While these players did have big games, it was the put-back layup of Drue Gandy that put Tharptown ahead by 30 points at 74-44 that started the running clock in the fourth quarter on Hackleburg.

This made the final minutes go by much faster, and the Wildcats came away with a 37-point victory.

“We still didn’t do a very good job in the post on defense,” Odom said. “We got more rebounds tonight, but we’ve got to get better.

Max Nolen had 14 points in the game for Tharptown, and Gandy added 10.

Also scoring for Tharptown were: Will Little (9), Blake Gray (8 points and team-high 7 rebounds), Patrick Tharp (2), Ed Saldana (2) and Colton Blankenship (2).

— stats kept by Jeremy Reed