RHS boys end season at subregionals
The 2018-19 varsity boys’ basketball season came to an end Feb. 12 for the Russellville Golden Tigers with a loss in a Class 5A sub-regional game.
Russellville hosted Madison Academy in the matchup and fell to the Mustangs by a 70-64 score. The Golden Tigers jumped out to an 18-14 lead after the first quarter of play, but outside shooting by Madison Academy – especially from freshman Drew Blackston – changed the flow of the game in the second period.
Blackston is the son of the MA head coach, and he scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the first half, including five three-pointers in the first two quarters. The Mustangs hit 11 three-point shots in the game but only connected on one shot from beyond the arc in the second half as the RHS defense adjusted.
As a team, Madison Academy made 13 first-half field goals, and 10 were from three-point distance.
“I felt like we had weathered that flurry to only go in down four,” said Russellville head coach Patrick Odom said. “They are so good at what they do. They spread you out, and they find the matchups that they like, and they attack those. We have been in these types of games all year, and we felt like we were right where we needed to be.”
Russellville’s Devin Buckhalter scored 12 of his team-leading 21 points in the game during the first half to keep the Golden Tigers close; RHS trailed 37-33 at the break.
Russellville’s freshman point guard, Will Bonner, scored 16 points in the game and almost willed his team to victory down the stretch. Bonner and teammate Brooks Scott scored all of their team’s points in the fourth quarter, with Bonner having 10 of the 14 RHS points in the period.
With two minutes remaining in the game, MA led 66-63. One minute later, Bonner drew a charge with good defensive positioning. Then, on the next trip down the floor, Bonner was called for a charge on a move to the basket to give the ball back to the Mustangs.
Madison Academy’s Josh Malone scored his team’s final four points. He sank two free-throws to put his team up 68-63 with 38 seconds remaining, and he later got a steal and a layup at the buzzer. Luke Reaves was also a big contributor for the 8-21 MA team with 17 points in the victory.
Russellville (20-7) had three players score in double figures, with two of them – Buckhalter and Lucas McNutt – playing their last game in a Golden Tigers’ basketball uniform. McNutt scored 10 points and was followed by Scott with eight and Chandler Dyas with seven. The only other senior on the squad, Caden Parker, scored two points.
“If you follow this team, it’s been a lot of fun,” Odom said. “I’m very blessed to have coached these guys. When you look at those three seniors I have, two of them are 1,000-point scorers. They’ve just been special kids, special young men, and great parts of our basketball program for four years. I told them a while ago that when it settles, you need to look back and think about the fun we’ve had and the things we’ve accomplished because they’ve accomplished a lot.”