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3 local teams fall in area finals

ATHENS, COLBERT HEIGHTS, BEAR CREEK — Three Franklin County boys varsity basketball teams made the area finals but were defeated Monday night.

The Russellville Golden Tigers advance to Monday night’s game after beating Lawrence County 65-59, but in the end Athens won the 5A Area 16 title match 59-43.

The Red Bay Tigers entered the 2A Area 16 finals after a close 49-46 win over area and county rival Phil Campbell.

The last regular season matchup between Red Bay and its area title opponent Colbert Heights only ended after three overtime periods.

This match provided yet another close outing for both teams, but it was the Colbert Heights Wildcats that emerged with the 59-49 win.

The Belgreen Bulldogs also found themselves playing a familiar foe in the Phillips Bears of Bear Creek.

The two teams split the wins in their two regular season matches, with both games won by the home team.

That was likely the difference in Monday night’s contest, as the Bears edged out the Bulldogs 55-47 for the 1A Area 15 title.

Both teams went on runs throughout the game, but Belgreen and Phillips remained close on the scoreboard for the vast majority of the contest.

The Bulldogs had a 7-6 advantage at the end of the first quarter, and things stayed pretty much the same in the next period of play.

The Bears went up early on in the second and kept the lead for around seven of the eight minutes of the quarter.

Just before halftime Belgreen tied the game at 17-17, and this scoreline would remain until after the break in action.

The next four combined field goals after intermission produced three lead changes, and the Bulldogs held the advantage until the midway point of the third.

Phillips went up 26-25 at that point, and they would lead for the rest of the game, though Belgreen was always in striking distance.

The largest lead of the game, 13 points, occurred a few minutes into the fourth when the Bears led 45-32, but the Bulldogs cut that to just five near the end of the game.

The Bears hit their free throws at the end to hold on to the close win.

“Phillips is good, and we didn’t execute on defense tonight,” Belgreen head coach Greg Watson said.

Chase Landers and Brock Hester led the Bulldogs in scoring on the night with 16 points each.

— stats kept by Jeremy Reed