News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

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Austin falls victim
to fourth-quarter run

By Josh Cooper · 340-2460

HARVEST — On a normal day, if Austin High’s boys basketball team limited Sparkman forward G.W. Boon to eight points, it would be a good day.

The Black Bears did all they could to control the Senators’ main scoring threat — the Bucknell signee dropped 32 on Austin the last time the two teams met.

But Austin fell 53-50 to its Class 6A, Area 16 rivals after Sparkman took control with a 7-2 spurt at the start of the fourth quarter.

“In the fourth quarter, that was when they got stuff going,” Austin coach Demond Garth said.

In two meetings this year, Sparkman has won twice by a total of six points.

The two teams split four meetings last year, with Austin winning in the Northwest Regional finals.

Sparkman (16-6, 5-0) locked up the area championship with its win Friday. Austin (13-9, 2-3) will finish second or third, but either way, the Black Bears will face Bob Jones in the opening round of the area tournament. Florence will finish fourth.

On Friday, Travis Cohn made 6 of 13 shots, scored 16 points and added five assists to lead the Black Bears. Jay Watkins chipped in 12 points, and Quez Powell had 11.

Aubrey Bethea added 16 points eight rebounds and Courtney Benford had 11 points for the Senators.

The question leading up to the game was whether the Black Bears could stop the Senators’ big men.

With the 6-foot-8 Bethea and 6-foot-5 Boon, the Senators had a height advantage over most of the Black Bears. Even so, Austin’s guards went to the basket.

“Our guards were doing a good job of driving and penetrating,” Garth said.

The strategy paid off as the Black Bears scored points, but not enough to garner any kind of big lead.

The teams were tied at 8 after the first quarter, at 20 after the second, and Sparkman held a 33-32 advantage in the third.

But Sparkman pulled away at the beginning of the final period to get some necessary breathing room.

After a Jusmon Rivers basket at 1:02 pushed the Sparkman advantage to 49-43, the Senators appeared in control of the game.

Austin started to chip away at the lead by hitting shots, fouling Sparkman and watching the Senators miss their free throws.

After Austin cut the Sparkman lead to 49-45, Rivers missed the front end of a one-and-one. Austin freshman Jay Watkins then scored to make the game just a two-point margin.

The Black Bears then fouled Benford, who missed the front end of his one-and-one free throw opportunity. Sparkman got the rebound, and Benford was fouled again.

This time, he made both of his free throws to make the game a four-point advantage.

The Black Bears made it interesting with 11.2 seconds when Powell hit a 3-point basket.

But once again, Benford swished both of his free throws with 7.4 seconds left.

Cohn hit the side of the rim on a 3-point attempt with two players on him and no time left.

“I felt like I was in the zone,” Cohn said. “I thought it was in, but it hit the rim.”

Sparkman girls 78, Austin 50: Adrienne Webb had 23 points, and Shai Wilkins dropped in 20 as Sparkman got out to a 44-15 halftime lead and never looked back.

Chasity Stover led the Lady Black Bears (12-12) with 16 points, and China McDaniel chipped in with 10.

Austin’s downfall was as second quarter where the Lady Black Bears had just one field goal and four points. During that time, Sparkman scored 22 points to open and almost irrecoverable margin.

The Lady Black Bears scored 22 points of their own in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late.

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