Golden Tigers end season at Northwest Regional

The 2022-23 boys’ basketball season came to an end for the Russellville Golden Tigers at the AHSAA Class 5A Northwest Regional at Wallace State with a 65-42 loss to the Fairfield Tigers.

RHS (18-11) struggled after the first quarter of the regional semi-final game Feb. 20, after starting off trailing 16-15. The Golden Tigers went cold in the second period, going 0-12 from the field and scoring two points on a couple of free-throws.

Russellville was outscored 18-2 during the quarter to create a deficit that was too much to overcome.

The Fairfield Tigers (25-9) added to their 34-17 halftime lead by outscoring Russellville 25-15 in the third quarter. RHS shot 32 percent from the field during the contest, while Fairfield shot 54 percent.

The Golden Tigers were 4-19 on three-point attempts on the night.

“We’d like to have that one back,” said Russellville head coach Patrick Odom. “We know we didn’t play as well as we’re capable of, and I credit Fairfield for that. They guarded us well. Their length and physicality gave us fits. That’s probably our lowest offensive output of the season.”

Fairfield was able to contain the usually fast-paced and high-scoring Golden Tiger team. RHS was led in scoring by EJ King and Conner Warhurst with 10 points apiece. Jah Williams added six, and KJ Murray and Bralynn Vincent had four each. Mike Young and Malachi Duncan scored three apiece, and Gavin Hyde added two points.

Amir Williams, a standout all season and a big reason why Russellville made it to the sweet sixteen of 5A for the first time in many years, was held scoreless.

Noah King led Fairfield with 19 points, and Ju-Maria Hamilton added 16.

Warhurst was one of five seniors on this year’s squad, along with EJ Jones, Malachi Gholston, Randell Johnson and Tilmon Baker. All were together on the court at the same time as time wound down on the fourth-quarter clock.

“I love these seniors and what they’ve been a part of as our program continues to grow,” Odom said. “We’ve had a lot of success, and getting here was another move.

“Now, with these young guys, we’re going to be hungry to come back,” he added. “I’m proud of my team. We know that we didn’t play well today, and we credit our opponent, but at the same time, I think we need to pause and take what we’ve done and be proud of it.”

The Russellville Golden Tigers earned the trip to Hanceville for the 5A boys’ basketball Northwest Regional at Wallace State for the first time since 2011 after an 87-78 sub-regional victory over the East Limestone Indians.

When the 2022-23 season began, RHS head coach Patrick Odom and his coaching staff, along with his young team, had a goal of taking things a step further – and they have accomplished that feat by advancing past the sub-regional round.

“We knew this group was capable,” Odom said. “You’ve got to get the commitment and the buy-in.

“One thing you see from this group is unselfishness,” he added. “I think we finish games with a different group a lot of times because it is just what is required. We have a lot of guys that put the team first, and that’s what allows you to do these things.

“We’ve been knocking on this door for a while since I’ve been here, and we’re glad that we finally knocked it down.”

Russellville and East played to an even 17-17 in the first quarter before the Golden Tigers outdid the Indians by three points in the second to take a 38-35 advantage into the halftime break.

ELHS came out hot in the third period, putting 30 points on the board to Russellville’s 24 – giving the Indians a 65-62 lead going into the final stanza.

The Golden Tigers got back on track in the fourth with a 25-13 finish, with the help of 14 made free-throws down the stretch.

Six players scored for Russellville during the home victory, with Amir Williams leading the way with 22 points. EJ King followed closely with 21 to form a solid one-two punch. Bralynn Vincent added 16, KJ Murray had 14, and Malachi Duncan also finished the game in double figures with 11. Conner Wahurst rounded out the scoring total with three points.

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