Bulldogs advance to regional finals
Anyone who has faced the Belgreen Bulldogs for the past two years knows stopping them requires figuring out a way to stop Will Bonner.
Most teams are still trying to figure out how, including Holy Spirit.
With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, Belgreen put the ball in Bonner’s hands, and he took over for – as one observer pointed out – “Will doing Will things.” That led to the Bulldogs punching their ticket to the Northwest Regional finals, beating Holy Spirit 63-61.
Belgreen will play Pickens County Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Wallace State Community College with a chance to advance to the Final Four in Birmingham.
“Will just knows how to get to the rim, make his shots and hit clutch free throws,” said Belgreen Coach Marty Cooper. That’s exactly what he did, scoring 32 points- –11 in the second quarter, 10 in the third quarter and nine in the critical fourth quarter, including going five-for-five from the free–throw line.
Cooper said as much attention as Bonner gets, it was a team effort.
“Collin Bonner scored 12 points, and all those came in six minutes because he was on the bench the whole game in foul trouble,” said Cooper. “We got some big three–point shots at critical times from Scout Bragwell, Austin James and Adrian Reeves.”
But the crucial play came right at the end.
With Belgreen leading by two, 63-61, Holy Spirit missed a three, and the ball went out of bounds off a Belgreen defender. Holy Spirit got the ball back under their own goal with 1.6 seconds to go in the game.
“I was really worried,” said Cooper. “They had a big kid, and they were going to try to get the ball underneath the basket. If he makes it, we go to overtime – or worse, he makes it and gets fouled, and they win. But we got a hand on it and tipped it away to get the win.”
“I am really proud of all of our guys,” Cooper added. “We still have all of our goals in front of us.”
SUBREGION: Belgreen 69, Covenant Christian 49
The Belgreen Bulldogs overcame a sluggish first half to pull away from the Covenant Christian Eagles in subregion play, winning 69-49. The win sent the Bulldogs to the semifinals to be played at Holy Spirit High School in Tuscaloosa.
Belgreen trailed 31-28 at halftime, but the Bulldogs caught fire in the third quarter, outscoring the Eagles 27-9 to take over the game.
The Bulldogs continued to push the pace in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Eagles 14-9 to close out the game.
Belgreen fell to a talented Marion County Red Raider team 73-33 in the Northwest Regional semifinals, bringing the Lady Bulldogs’ season to an end.
To advance to the semifinals, Belgreen’s Emma Dempsey scored 27 points to lead the Bulldogs past the Shoals Christian Flame in sub–region play 53-29.
Dempsey got the Bulldogs off to a good start, scoring 11 of Belgreen’s 15 first–quarter points. Belgreen led 15-9 at the end of one period of play. Belgreen outscored Shoals Christian 14-13 in the second quarter to take a 29-22 lead at halftime.
Belgreen extended the lead to 42-29 in the third quarter and clamped down defensively in the fourth quarter to hold the Flame scoreless.
Dacota Green followed Dempsey with 14 points. Kaley Chandler added four points. Madison Vandiver and Bryn Scott scored three points each. Noelle Willingham added two points.