Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer|
Priceville's Korey Christy, left, and Robert Varner, rear, pressure West Morgan's David Pritchard in the Morgan County Tournament in Priceville on Thursday night. Priceville won 56-52 in overtime.
Upstart Bulldogs send home top seed
Priceville advances to finals with 2nd straight upset in Morgan
By Brooke Milam
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PRICEVILLE — Playing in its home gym, the Priceville High's boys basketball team has made the most of home-court advantage in this year's Morgan County Tournament.
The fifth-seeded Bulldogs upset top-seeded West Morgan 56-52 in Thursday's semifinals after knocking off defending county champion Brewer in Monday's opening round.
It took overtime for the Bulldogs to pull off the semifinal win.
Priceville trailed the majority of the game before Josh Bedwell hit a pair of free throws tying the game at 50 with 17 seconds left in regulation. The Bulldogs carried the momentum into overtime, outlasting West Morgan 6-2 in the extra period.
"I hoped it would be a close game because I knew (West Morgan) had too good of a team for us to run away with it," Priceville coach Darrell Haynes said.
Priceville advances to the county tournament finals for the first
time since the school's reopening in 2001.
The Bulldogs will face the winner of Hartselle/Falkville, who will play Friday night at 8 at Priceville High.
In girls' semifinal action, Hartselle beat host Priceville 52-28.
The top-seeded Lady Tigers will play the winner of Brewer/Danville, who play Friday night at 6:30.
The West Morgan boys held a slim lead through most of the first quarter and were ahead 13-11 after the opening period.
The Rebels scored the first 15 points of the second, building a 28-11 advantage before a 3-pointer by Priceville's Bedwell broke the streak.
West Morgan was ahead 28-16 at halftime.
"I felt like we were on the verge of a getting blown out. Then at halftime, we decided we were going to fight back, and it went even better than we anticipated," Haynes said.
Priceville's Robert Varner hit a 3-pointer, cutting the Rebels' lead to single digits, 34-26, with 3:20 left in the third and a trey by teammate Andrew Johnson with 1:36 left in the period narrowed the margin to 34-29.
"We were trying to help a lot on Bedwell, and in the second half we'd turn our head and there they were," West Morgan coach Ricky Bowling said.
The Bulldogs' JaColby Reid had a layup seconds later that pulled Priceville within 34-31, but it still left West Morgan
on top going into the final period.
Another Bedwell 3-pointer made it a one-point game, 40-39 West Morgan, with 4:45 left in regulation.
A layup by Bedwell put Priceville ahead 48-47 with a minute left in the fourth, but a 3-point play by West Morgan's Phillip Powell again put the Rebels ahead 50-48 with 55 seconds left before Bedwell hit the game-tying free throws to force overtime.
Bowling said what went well for his Rebels early was what unraveled late, when West Morgan was forced to play without usual leading scorers Randolph and Powell, who were in foul trouble.
"Offensive is where we blew the game," Bowling said.
"Early in the game we were moving the ball and taking decent shots, but we quit running our stuff when they put a little pressure on us."
Powell played with four fouls from the third quarter on and Randolph fouled out midway through the fourth.
Still, Randolph led the Rebels' scoring with 18 points, followed by David Pritchard with 17.
Bedwell was the game's leading scorer with 21 points.
Hartselle girls 52, Priceville 28: Hartselle proved again why it is the Class 5A No. 2 ranked team in the state.
The convincing win over fourth-seeded Priceville put the Lady Tigers in position to defend their county title.
"Especially with our seniors we have — they want to defend their county championship. They don't want to go out losing the county tournament."
And the Lady Tigers seniors proved that in the semifinals.
Hartselle senior Lauren Drake led all scorers and paced the Lady Tigers with a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Fellow senior Mary Virginia Reeves had seven points and eight rebounds and Jessica Andrews had 13 points and a team-best seven assists.
Priceville's leading scorers were Melissa Johnson and Abbie Harris, with eight points each.
Johnson also pulled down six rebounds and Adrianna Delatorre had a team-high seven boards.
"(Hartselle) is very strong, but we're getting better, and I'm proud of my girls," Priceville coach Stacey Lovett said.
"I think we played better than a 24-point ball game."
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