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Franklin County Tournament Champions

In a battle among Franklin County teams, Belgreen, Phil Campbell and East Franklin Schools have something to celebrate with Franklin County Varsity Tournament championships for 2021.

VARSITY BOYS

Will Bonner leads Belgreen to second straight title

Will Bonner scored 27 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter and the last six points of the game, to lead the Belgreen Bulldogs to a 58-51 win over the Red Bay Tigers. The win gave the Bulldogs (16-2) their second-straight Franklin County Tournament championship.

“Winning the Franklin County Tournament means a lot for our school,” said Belgreen Coach Marty Cooper. “I am happy for our fans, our school and our community.”

Belgreen had a late surge of points in the second quarter when Austin James hit a three-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 29-21 lead. Bonner made a followup basket just as the half came to a close.

Red Bay came out of the locker room with a renewed sense of urgency, going on an 11-0 run to tie the game 32-32 to start the half – aided by a three-pointer and a two-hand slam duck by Braden Ray.

Will Donahoe hit a layup assisted by Will Bonner to stop the bleeding, and the game was tight the rest of the half, right up until the end.

Canaan Stough hit a floater with 1:29 to go in the game to cap off a seven-point fourth quarter and give Belgreen a 52-48 lead. Bonner followed with a bankshot off an inbound pass to give the Bulldogs a 54-48 lead with just over a minute to play in the game.

Ray hit a three-pointer to pull Red Bay to within three, with 58 seconds to go, but Bonner sealed the deal with free throws down the stretch.

Collin Bonner and Stough followed Will Bonner with 10 points each for Belgreen. James added seven points. Donahoe and Isac Willingham scored two points each.

Ray led Red Bay with 18 points. He was followed by Lane Shewbart with 10 points, Jalen Vinson with seven, Hunter Burks with six, Gage Bays with five, Andrew Ray with three and Landon Glover with two.

In the semifinals, Belgreen beat Tharptown 75-57 to advance. The Bulldogs led 38-19 at halftime. Collin Bonner led Belgreen with 17 points, followed by James with 15 points, Will Bonner with 13 points, Scout Bragwell with 12 points and Willingham with 12 points.

Winston Nolen led all scorers with 20 points to lead Tharptown. He was followed by Colton Simmons with 18 points and Dylan Valdez with 10 points.

Red Bay beat Phil Campbell 65-53 in the other semifinal game. Red Bay led Phil Campbell 32-18 at the half. Braden Ray led the Tigers with 33 points, including 23 in the first half, where he made five three-pointers. He was followed by Shewbart with 10 points.

Mason Swinney led Phil Campbell with 18 points, including five three-pointers in the second half. Bryant Hyde added 13 points.

VARSITY GIRLS

Lady Bobcats win fourth straight title

The Phil Campbell Bobcat girls used their signature pressure defense to methodically put away the Red Bay Tigers 49-42 and win their fourth-straight Franklin County Championship Saturday night.

“It is a great accomplishment for our team,” said Phil Campbell Coach Craig Thomas. “This is one of our goals each year – to win the county tournament. It shows how hard these girls work year in and year out to build this program to where it is today.”

Senior Katie Thomas and junior Faith Cook scored five points each in the first quarter to help Phil Campbell build a 16-9 lead. In the second quarter, it was senior Caitlynn Mills who led the charge, scoring nine points to help the Bobcats extend their lead to 33-20 at halftime.

Red Bay tried to make a comeback in the second half, outscoring Phil Campbell 22-16, but it wasn’t enough to catch the Bobcats.

Mills led Phil Campbell with 13 points. Madison Branch, Cook and Thomas scored seven points each. Thomas surpassed the 1,000 career points mark in the game.

Trinity Thomas added six points. Olivia Taylor and Kenner Scott scored four points each. Makayla Baker added a point.

Macy Faulkner and Destiny McCollister led Red Bay with 12 points and 11 points, respectively. Lila Ledbetter added nine points, Emma McCollister five points, Kaylie Lindley three points and Madeline Ledbetter two points.

In the semifinals, Phil Campbell beat Vina 63-51. The Bobcats led the Red Devils 32-25 at halftime and 47-32 at the end of the third quarter. The Bobcats, without starting point guard Caitlynn Mills, had three players in double figures, with Katie Thomas leading the way with 25 points. Thomas had 21 of those points in the first half but also got in foul trouble.

Taylor added 14 points, and Branch had 10 points.

Abbie Mitchell led Vina with 25 points, followed by Sarah Scott with 12 points.

Red Bay defeated Tharptown 49-33 in the other semifinal game. The Tigers led the Wildcats 18-12 at halftime and extended the lead to 35-17 at the end of the third quarter.

Faulkner led Red Bay with 14 points. Gracie Montgomery led Tharptown with 13 points.

B-VARSITY BOYS

Belgreen cruises to victory

The Belgreen Bulldogs got off to a strong start and cruised to an easy 36-25 win over Red Bay to capture the Franklin County Tournament championship.

Belgreen raced out to 10-2 in the first quarter with some heavy defensive pressure. The Bulldogs continued to keep the foot on the pedal in the second quarter, extending their lead to 22-8 at halftime.

Belgreen led 29-13 at the end of the third quarter.

Adrian Reeves led Belgreen with 11 points. He was followed by Cole King with nine points, Hadden Taylor with eight points and Jordan Wright with four points. Alex Guidry and Alex Jarnigan scored two points each.

Brady Bolton led Red Bay with six points. He was followed by Cody Carnes with five points, Holden Inmon with four points, Lawson Glover with four points, Kennedy Wilemon with three points, and Will West with two points.

In the semifinals, Belgreen defeated Tharptown 36-27 to advance.

Belgreen hit nine three-pointers, overwhelming the Wildcats. The Bulldogs led 19-8 at halftime and 31-21 at the end of the third quarter.

Hadden Taylor and Adrian Reeves led Belgreen with 12 points each. Reeves hit four of Belgreen’s three-pointers.

Malachi Minor and Dawson Higgins led Tharptown with nine points and eight points, respectively.

NINTH-GRADE

East Franklin boys, girls teams win tourney

The East Franklin Rebel girls, powered by a strong second-half offensive surge, capped off an 18-1 season and captured the ninth-grade girls Franklin County Tournament title, beating Phil Campbell 31-22 Friday night.

The Rebels were able to pull off the season despite their coach, Dalana Baker, being diagnosed with lung cancer in the middle of the season and having surgery Dec. 30 in Houston, Texas.

“Coach Baker had to miss several practices and games before Christmas,” said Miranda Hardy, who filled in to help coach the team in Baker’s absence. “We knew we had the talent to win, but Dalana has the basketball brain. I just tried to keep things together while she was gone. She hasn’t missed a practice or game since her surgery.”

“The girls worked so hard and played every game knowing how important it was to Coach Baker, and they never wanted to let her down,” said Hardy, who continued to coach through the tournament. “The team had a motto, ‘Losing is not an option.’ That meant in basketball and in Coach Baker’s battle with cancer and all the things life throws at us.”

Both teams got off to a slow start offensively, with East Franklin leading Phil Campbell 4-2 at the end of the first quarter. The Rebels maintained their two-point lead at halftime, 11-9.

East Franklin began to pull away midway through the third quarter and led the Bobcats 23-18 at the end of three. The Rebels out scored the Bobcats 8-4 in the fourth quarter to secure the lead and the championship.

Macy Hardy led East Franklin with 10 points. Isabell Ashley followed with seven points, and Leela Baker added six points. Jaci Sutherland, Ayla Stowe, Abigail Bell, and Sidda Rogers all scored two points each.

Lizzy Duncan led Phil Campbell with eight points. Mia Ambrosia added six points, Kaley Motes four points, Patience Mays two points and Hannah Welborn two points.

The East Franklin Rebel boys won the ninth-grade boys title by default this year.

With most teams playing their ninth-graders on B-varsity or varsity teams, only two teams were scheduled to be in the ninth grade tournament: East Franklin and Vina. Vina had to drop out of the tournament because of a lack of players to participate.

For action shots from the tournament finals, click here. 

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