Russellville boys win basketball area, sub-region on way to Wallace State
The Russellville Golden Tigers had a busy week on the basketball court as the varsity boys and girls both played in the area tournament finals and then advanced to face tough competition in the sub-regional round in Class 5A of the AHSAA.
Russellville’s boys hosted the area tournament, and the Golden Tigers earned the area championship for the the fourth consecutive season with a 77-66 win over the Lawrence County Red Devils on Feb. 7.
RHS led 38-25 at the half and held a 55-41 advantage after three quarters of action. LCHS tried to rally in the game’s final period, but the Golden Tigers held on for the win.
EJ King and Malachi Duncan had 17 points each to lead Russellville in scoring. Gavin Hyde added 14 and KJ Murray scored 12. Jah Williams had eight points, Bralynn Vincent returned to the court after missing a few games and scored six and Mike Young scored three.
Russellville hosted the sub-regional round versus Wenonah High School on Feb. 10, and the Golden Tigers slayed the Dragons by a 79-63 final score.
With the win, the RHS boys advanced to play in the Northwest Regional at Wallace State in Hanceville for the second consecutive year for the first time in school history since the current playoff format was put into place beginning with the 1993-1994 season.
The two teams played a fast-paced game with Russellville holding a 56-54 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Golden Tigers then outdid Wenonah 23-9 in the game’s final period to seal the victory and become one of only 16 teams remaining in the 5A playoffs.
EJ King led RHS with 27 points. Malachi Duncan added 18 and KJ Murray scored 11. Mike Young, Jah Williams and Bralynn Vincent all had six points each, while Gavin Hyde scored five.
“What a game,” Russellville head coach Patrick Odom said after the sub-regional win. “I’ve got to thank our people. We packed it out, and what a fun atmosphere. Wenonah is a great team. We beat an elite basketball team that has athleticism and size.”
The RHS squad earned a trip back to Wallace State, and it took a team effort. “When you look at the teams playing in the Northwest Region bracket, this is hard. Everytime you win, at least for a minute, you better enjoy it because everybody is really good, everybody has a chance and everybody has great athletes. Credit goes to our guys, we’re back and hopefully we can draw from the experience of going there and find a way to keep winning the next 32 minutes,” Odom added.
The Russellville girls went to West Point on Feb. 6 and fell to the Lady Warriors 56-37 in the area tournament championship game.
Ella Copeland led RHS with 11 points. Jacey Moore and Desiree Medina each scored seven and Jemma Moore added four. Avery Watts and Laila Hill finished with two points apiece.
With the area winner and runner-up both advancing, the Lady Golden Tigers went to the sub-region round for the first time since 2012.
On Feb. 9, Russellville traveled to Pleasant Grove and fell to the defending 5A state champions by a 61-25 score. The Lady Golden Tigers finished the season with a record of 11-15.
Leading RHS in scoring versus the Lady Spartans was Ella Copeland with 12 points. Jacey Moore and Aleah Bonman had four points each while Avery Watts and Jemma Moore scored two apiece. Laila Hill also entered the scoring column with one point.
“Overall, the girls fought and got better every week,” Russellville head coach Jermaine Groce said about the season. The three RHS seniors on this year’s team were Avery Watts, Jacey Moore and Desiree Medina. Groce said he is proud of the foundation that they laid for the teams to come. “Hopefully, we can either hold serve and advance to sub-region again next year or we take the next step and advance to Wallace. I’m super-proud of all our girls and a lot of good things happened this year,” Groce said. “It just didn’t end-up the way we wanted.”