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Red Bay wins seventh straight county championship

By Bart Moss for the FCT

Coach Donnie Roberts has been a part of Franklin County Tournaments since 1983 when he first came to Red Bay from Tremont, Miss. He coached his last Franklin County Tournament Saturday night, defeating Belgreen 41-26, in an environment that was very familiar to those early tournaments: Small gym. Big crowd.

“This is kind of how I remember it from the beginning,” said Roberts, a member of the Alabama High School Hall of Fame. “We played this tournament in a lot of small gyms with overflow crowds. The rivalries were intense, the competition was tough, and the crowds were loud.”

Another familiarity was that Roberts’ team was hoisting the championship trophy. Under Roberts’ leadership, the Red Bay Tigers (19-6) have won 27 Franklin County Tournament championships, including seven in a row and 18 of the last 19.

“It has been a great run in this tournament,” said Roberts. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls to go out with. They are competitors, and they want to win.”

Talent is something Roberts is not short of. Two of his players have Division I scholarships waiting on them: Allie Kennedy at Southern Miss and Darby Madden at the University of North Alabama.

Red Bay and Belgreen played to a 10-10 tie in the first quarter. From there, however, the Tigers steadily put the game away. Red Bay outscored Belgreen 10-5 in the second quarter to hold a 20-15 halftime lead. The Tigers outpaced the Bulldogs 11-3 in the third quarter to extend their lead to 31-18 and coasted to the championship.

“I thought we played well early on,” said Belgreen Coach Chad Green, now in his 11th season. “We missed some easy shots and made a few turnovers, and you just can’t do that against a talented team or a well-coached team, and they are both.”

Madden led the Tigers with 15 points, going 10-for-15 from the free throw line. Kennedy added 11 points. Morgan Pierce finished the game with eight points. Reagan Kuykendall, Carlie Lindley and Savannah Shaw scored two points each. Carlee Humphres finished with one point.

Camie Terrell and Emma Dempsey led Belgreen with seven points each. Jasmine Martin added five points. Gabbie Moore and Emma Willingham scored two points each. Shellie Barber finished with one point.

Although his Franklin County Tournament run is complete, Roberts said his job is not.

“We want to make another run at a state championship,” said Roberts. “We are going to have to play better than we have in the last couple of games. We are going to be facing some stiff competition leading up to the area tournament, and that will be good for us. Our girls rise up to the level of our competition, and we need to be playing our best when February rolls around.”

Semifinals

Belgreen 63, Vina 35

Brianna Wood knocked down 12 of Belgreen’s 21 third quarter points to help propel the Bulldogs past the Vina Red Devils 63-35 and into the finals of the Franklin County Tournament.

The game was tight throughout the first half. Belgreen led Vina 13-8 at the end of the first quarter. Vina cut into Belgreen’s lead in the second quarter, outscoring the Bulldogs 12-11 to make the score 24-20 Belgreen at halftime. The Bulldogs came out of the locker room on fire, outscoring Vina 21-8 in the third quarter to extend their lead to 45-28. Belgreen outpaced Vina 18-7 in the final period of play to secure the win.

Emma Dempsey led Belgreen with 20 points. She was followed by Wood, who scored 15 points. Wood hit seven-of-ten free throws in Belgreen’s big third quarter. Katie Dempsey added ten points. Jasmine Martin had eight points, Camie Terrell seven points, and Gabbie Moore finished with three points.

Emma Humphres led Vina with 18 points. Abby Hester was held to 11 points. Mary Clingan, Sarah Johnson and Kaitlin King scored two points each.

Red Bay 43, Phil Campbell 34

The Red Bay Tigers had no cakewalk to the finals of the Franklin County Tournament but were able to outlast a pesky Phil Campbell Bobcats team 43-34 to advance to the finals.

Roberts is known for getting a lead then putting on the breaks and slowing the game down. Thursday night, however, the slow down was caused by a mixture of very wet and humid conditions on the outside and a large crowd in a very small gym on the inside. These conditions led to condensation on the floor, where the officials had to stop the game a few times to have the floor mopped to prevent an injury.

The conditions didn’t hamper what was expected to be one of the better games of the tournament. Both teams battled to a 6-6 tie in the first quarter. Red Bay inched ahead at halftime 21-18. The Tigers extended their lead to 34-24 by the end of the third quarter and held on for the win.

Darby Madden led Red Bay with 15 points. Reagan Kuykendall and Morgan Pierce scored ten points each. Carlee Humphres and Allie Kennedy had four points each.

Abby Davis led the Phil Campbell Bobcats with ten points. Chloe Roberson and Darby Elliott had eight points each. Dakota Elliott had four points. Bethany Harris and Carley Nix had two points.

Quarterfinals

Phil Campbell 69, Tharptown 43

The Phil Campbell Bobcats had no problem advancing to the semifinals of the Franklin County Tournament with a 69-43 win over the Tharptown Wildcats. The Bobcats advanced to play Red Bay.

Phil Campbell led Tharptown 16-10 at the end of the first quarter. The Bobcats piled up 30 points in the second quarter, limiting the Wildcats to 17 points, giving Phil Campbell a 46-27 halftime lead. The Bobcats put the game away in the the third quarter, outscoring the Wildcats 15-7 to take 61-34 lead into the final period of play.

Darby Elliott led Phil Campbell with 29 points. She was followed by Abby Davis, who had ten points. Bethany Harris had eight points; Dakota Elliott finished with seven points; Anna Gunderman had six points; Carley Nix scored four points; Chloe Roberson and Macy Farley netted two points each; and Megan Bullock added one point for the Bobcats.

Catie Dawson led Tharptown with 15 points. Linda Bahena added nine points; Amelia Dawson finished with seven points; Klaudia Harris had five points; and Sierra Robinson and Kaylee Bain added three points each.

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