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Bobcats advance to regionals

By Bart Moss / For the FCT

Both Phil Campbell Bobcat basketball teams defeated Altamont last week and were able to advance to the Northwest Regionals in Hanceville.  It is the first time both Bobcat teams have advanced to the regionals at the same time in a decade.

The varsity girls team easily defeated Altamont 46-28. Coach Craig Thomas attributed the win to a great defensive effort.

“We really got after it tonight,” said Thomas. “We were getting on the floor after loose balls and putting pressure on their guards tonight. I’m really proud of the way we played.”

The Lady Bobcats picked up the win despite have two regulars out because of sickness and injury.

“We had to have some girls step up, and they did,” said Thomas. “I’m really proud of some of our younger girls and the effort they gave.  We needed them to play solid defense tonight, and they delivered.”

Phil Campbell jumped out to a 13-7 first quarter lead and extended the lead to 31-13 by halftime and coasted to the win.

Darby Elliot led Phil Campbell with 13 points. Chloe Roberson and Dakota Elliot had 11 points each. Others scoring for the Bobcats were Abby Davis (5), Elizabeth Benford (3), Kelsey Bullock (2), and Leah Gunderman (1).

The Lady Bobcats play Mars Hill in the Northwest Regionals Friday.

It wasn’t nearly as easy for the Phil Campbell varsity boys.  The Bobcats and Altamont were in a tight game down to the final buzzer.

Altamont led Phil Campbell 10-7 after one quarter, but the Bobcats stormed back to take a 19-14 halftime lead. Altamont closed the gap to one point, 28-27, by the end of the third quarter. Altamont took the lead briefly in the fourth quarter, but the Bobcats were able to hold on and advance to the Northwest Regionals in Hanceville.

“It’s hard to put into words how proud I am of these guys,” said Bobcat coach Brett Thomas.  “We have worked hard and overcome so much adversity.”

Thomas said the defensive strategy caught Altamont off guard.

“We decided to play a 1-3-1 defense for the first time,” explained Thomas.  “We felt comfortable that our big guys inside could handle their inside players, so we focused on guarding the perimeter and contesting their outside shots. The defense gave them problems all night.”

“I was also proud of some of our younger guys coming off the bench,” said Thomas.  “Rhett Benford hit some clutch free throws for us down the stretch tonight.”

Peyton Thomas led Phil Campbell with 13 points. The rest of the scoring line for the Bobcats was Hayden Copeland (8), Noah Williams (8), Gage Roberson (7), Rhett Benford (4) and Grant Masterson (1).

The varsity boys play Mars Hill Friday in the Northwest Regionals.