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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2006
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Austin High's Travis Cohn, right, works the ball past Butler's Diamon Alexander on Wednesday night. Butler won 86-53.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Austin High's Travis Cohn, right, works the ball past Butler's Diamon Alexander on Wednesday night. Butler won 86-53.

Austin runs out of gas in Huntsville

By Brooke Milam
bmilam@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

HUNTSVILLE — Austin High has seen more than its share of tough competition this Christmas Break. And in the Huntsville Times Classic on Wednesday, it looked as if six games in seven days, including four contests against ranked teams, finally caught up with the Black Bears.

Austin's bright spot of the day came in a morning win over rival Sparkman 63-55, Wednesday night's 86-53 loss to Butler in the semifinals hit hard.

"I was impressed with how our guys played this morning, and tonight they never put their heads down," Austin High head coach Demond Garth said. "That's the thing about this tournament — the competition is so good that you can be on the high of highs this morning, like we were, and then tonight didn't play well at all."

Austin missed its chance at the championship game, but will play Lee-Huntsville in the third-place game today at 3 p.m. at Huntsville High, and Butler will face Bradley Central of Cleveland, Tenn., in the finals tonight at 7.

Both Decatur and Athens fell out of the tournament Wednesday. The Red Raiders beat Grissom 57-56 before falling to J.O. Johnson 72-61 in the nightcap.

Athens lost to host Huntsville High 57-49 on Wednesday morning.

Madison Academy and J.O. Johnson emerged from the consolation bracket, and the two teams will play for fifth place today at 1:30 p.m.

In the past week, Austin has faced ranked teams Hewitt-Trussville, Homewood, Madison Academy and Butler, as well as Spain Park and Sparkman.

"I could make all the excuses in the world about us being tired, but the bottom line is that Butler is a great team, and if you're not on your P's and Q's they will beat you bad," Garth said.

Austin had no signs of fatigue against Sparkman. The Black Bears led 15-10 after the first quarter and were still ahead 29-28 at halftime.

After falling behind 40-37 after three quarters, Austin stormed back for 26 fourth-quarter points and sealed the win with free throws by Jay Sears and a high-flying dunk by Travis Cohn.

Sears' 29 points led Austin (10-5) and Cohn followed with 12. Sparkman's G.W. Boon scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

And with the whole afternoon to come down from that high, Austin didn't fare well in the night game, falling behind 16-2 midway through the first quarter and trailing by as many as 20 points twice in the first half.

"That took all the wind out of our sails," Garth said. "When you're in comeback mode against Butler, it makes you play faster and that makes you have more turnovers."

Without many chances to score, the Black Bears totaled 27 turnovers in the contest and took only 16 shots from the field after halftime while Butler took 32.

The Rebels also outrebounded the Black Bears 36-22.

"We got no second-chance points," Garth said. "They go hard on both the offensive and defensive boards."

Cohn scored 17 against Butler, and Sears had 16. The pair pulled down five rebounds apiece.

For Butler, Ralph Eason had 22 points with five rebounds, Dionte Clayborn scored 17, Diamon Alexander had 16 and Jamarius Chandler 10.

Decatur 57, Grissom 56: Decatur controlled the game from the opening tip to advance in the consolation bracket, but it got closer than the Red Raiders would have liked.

Ahead 20-9 at the end of the first quarter, the Red Raiders' lead shrank to 29-22 at halftime.

Grissom slowed its offense after the break, focusing on shot selection and the plan worked. The Tigers shot 64 percent from the field in the second half.

Grissom matched Decatur's baskets for much of the third quarter, keeping the Red Raiders from extending their lead, and Decatur was up 42-36 going into the fourth.

Decatur scored the first eight points of the final period to pull away. The Red Raiders escaped with the win, but Grissom was back within four points with 11 seconds to play. The final margin was just a point after Grissom hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Jarodiaus Willingham's 16 points and 10 rebounds paced Decatur. Mark Mason and Rishard Tapscott each scored 12 for the Red Raiders. Mason also had four steals, and G Redus had three steals and seven rebounds.

Grissom's Jacob Frazier led all scorers with 29 points.

J.O. Johnson 72, Decatur 61: The Jaguars jumped to a 23-14 lead after the first quarter and had Decatur on its heels the rest of the contest.

In the final three quarters combined, J.O. Johnson outscored Decatur by a basket, but the early deficit was too much for the Red Raiders to overcome.

Rico Pickett's 23 points and five rebounds led Decatur, while Redus, Tapscott and Mason each contributed nine points. Willingham had a team-high eight rebounds.

For J.O. Johnson, Joshua Langford 16 points and 11 rebounds led the Jaguars, while Roy McDonald scored 14 points, Antwone Jackson and Cameron Logan each had 12, and David Isabelle added 10.

Huntsville 57, Athens 49: Even at the half at 28, the Golden Eagles just trailed by a point after the third quarter before the Crimson Panthers posted a huge fourth period to secure the win.

Huntsville outscored Athens 18-9 in the final period, eliminating the Golden Eagles in the tournament's consolation bracket.

The Panthers' shooting was more on target after the break, while Athens stumbled. Huntsville shot 53 percent after the break to the Golden Eagles' 33 percent.

Athens got a team-best 15 points and five assists from Jacquez Pride. Larquis Crutcher put up 13 points and pulled down five rebounds. Ferrell Williams got seven boards.

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