Russellville triumphs for third-straight basketball season
For the third season in a row, the Russellville boys’ basketball team is the area champion.
The Golden Tigers hosted the Lawrence County Red Devils in the Class 5A Area 15 tournament title game Feb. 10 and got the 62-61 victory in a thriller.
It is said that beating a team three times in one season is difficult, and that proved to be true in this high-energy contest. RHS dominated the area, winning all games this season against those opponents, but Lawrence County took the home team down to the wire this time around.
With the score tied at 61-61, Russellville’s EJ King got fouled on a put-back attempt close to the basket and stepped to the free-throw line with three-tenths of a second left on the fourth-quarter clock. He needed to sink one of two at the charity stripe to clinch victory.
He made the second one.
“If I could pick a guy to put on the line in that situation, he is one of the guys we would put there,” said Russellville head coach Patrick Odom. “I had a lot of confidence in him. I was messing with him afterward; I said ‘You just had to make it more suspenseful by missing the first one,’ but I knew he was going to make at least one.”
Russellville led 35-28 over LCHS at the half and held a 50-45 advantage after three quarters of play before the Red Devils outscored the Golden Tigers by four in the final period.
King’s clutch free throw was one of his team-high 15 points. Amir Williams added 13, and Bralynn Vincent scored eight. KJ Murray had seven points, Malachi Duncan six, Conner Warhurst five and Mike Young four.
Jah Williams and Gavin Hyde rounded out the scoring with two points each.
Odom shared after the game that this is the first time RHS has won the basketball area for three consecutive years since 1980, ’81 and ’82.
In the opening game of the area tourney Feb. 8, Russellville defeated West Point by a 71-27 final score to end Warriors’ season.
The Golden Tigers outscored West Point 20-1 in the first quarter to set the pace for the evening. RHS went on to lead 45-12 at the half and 63-20 after three quarters of action.
Eleven players entered the scoring column for Russellville, with Amir Williams leading the team with 13 points. Murray scored nine, and Jah Williams and Vincent had eight apiece. Young scored seven; Hyde, King and Warhurst added six each; and Randell Johnson had four. Malachi Gholston and Tilmon Baker added two points apiece.
The Golden Tigers are 17-10 on the season and will host East Limestone in the sub-region game, with a trip to Wallace State for the Northwest Regional on the line.
The Class 5A Area 15 girls’ tournament took place at West Point, and Russellville fell in the opening round to the Lady Warriors by a 61-45 total.
RHS got off to a strong start, leading 13-8 at the end of the first quarter, and the Lady Golden Tigers had a 23-22 halftime advantage. West Point turned things around in the third period by holding Russellville to five points in the quarter while scoring 21.
Jacey Moore led RHS with 13 points. Ella Copeland added 11, Avery Watts had eight, Anna Beth Oliver scored five and Laila Hill had four. Jenna Whitfield and Hope Bonman each scored two. The Golden Tigers finished the season with an 11-17 record.