East Limestone downs RHS
For the FCT
CAPSHAW — With 6:30 left in the fourth quarter of the Class 5A sub-regional matchup between Russellville and East Limestone on Friday, the Golden Tigers looked like a lock to reach their second trip to the regional tournament in Hanceville in three years and fourth in school history.
Back-to-back Leslie Dunstan three-pointers had given Russellville a 37-29 lead and all of the momentum.
However, the Indians had other plans. Buoyed by junior forward Jordon Gandy, who scored 10 of his 18 points in the final period, East Limestone outscored Russellville 15-2 down the stretch to earn a 44-39 win.
In a game the Golden Tigers led nearly all game, Gandy’s points down the stretch–as well as a tough pressure defense–proved to be the difference in the game.
Early on, Russellville went inside to Dunstan, who scored eight points in the first period.
Meanwhile, the Indians struggled from the field–they would not hit a three-pointer in the game–and the Golden Tigers led 14-4 after one stanza.
In a bit of foreshadowing, however, East Limestone turned to their pressure defense to go on a quick 9-0 run to cut the Russellville lead to 14-13.
The two teams would go cold from the field, with the Golden Tigers clinging to a 19-17 lead at intermission.
The third quarter saw the two teams trade baskets throughout, with both teams scoring 10 in the quarter to give Russellville a 29-27 lead heading into the fourth quarter. After Dunstan’s two threes, the Indians turned up the pressure.
Gandy and sophomore guard Devin Davis combined to score the next 10 points to give East Limestone its first lead of the game at 39-37.
Kaelan Bonds hit a layup on the other end to tie the score at 39, but Gandy drove the lane to give the Indians a lead they would not relinquish.
The final daggers came, first when Gandy found an open Blake Tucker underneath to push the lead to 43-39. The second came after a Russellville miss and foul, sending the Indians to the line for a one-and-one.
The shot missed, but East Limestone came up with the rebound, allowing them to run more clock and effectively end any comeback hopes for the Golden Tigers.
Dunstan led Russellville with 18 points.
Bonds had seven, Caleb Robison had five, and Jacob Seal, Drew Malone, and Jackson Smith each had three for the Golden Tigers, whose season ends at 11-16.
The Indians improved to 19-12 and advanced to the Class 5A Regional tournament at Wallace State-Hanceville on Tuesday for the first time as a Class 5A school.
East Limestone will take on two-time defending state champion Wenonah in a regional matchup at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19.