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SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2007
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Rattlers, Rebels
set up rematch

W. Morgan lone 2A
team to beat Tanner

By Bradley Handwerger
bhandwerger@decaturdaily.com 340-2462

TANNER — When Delano Yarbrough's shot fell through the hoop late in Tanner's Class 2A, Area 15 tournament game against Hatton, you might have thought it was a last-second game-winner in the season's final game for the Rattlers.

You would be wrong.

Yarbrough's 3-pointer helped Tanner eclipse the century mark as the Rattlers moved past Hatton 102-60 at home Friday night.

Tanner's reward?

A Monday rematch against West Morgan, a 65-55 winner of Falkville in the area tournament's first game.

It's a big one, for sure.

The Rebels (19-8) are the only 2A school to defeat Tanner (23-5) this season. But that was in Trinity on Dec. 13. And in that game, West Morgan won 59-57, holding off a late Tanner rally.

This time, the game is in Tanner, where the Rattlers rebounded with a 60-36 win Jan. 12.

"They're a great team," West Morgan coach Ricky Bowling said.

"We were lucky to hold on, but they beat us here. They really play well here. We'll have to come with our 'A' game. I'm just hoping our kids believe."

Bowling isn't alone in knowing that it's going to take a big effort to pull out a win Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the area tournament finals.

Tanner is thinking the same.

"We just have to go out every game and not take it for granted," Tanner guard Rod Byrd said. "That's what we've got to do. ... These count."

The 24-point Tanner win in January is a bit deceiving. When West Morgan won the first game, forward Phillip Powell struck for 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

However, in the Rebels' loss, Powell went down early with an injury, becoming a non-factor.

"He's their man," Tanner head coach Chris Whitt said. "He's the one who will really hurt you on the inside."

While the pressure is off in this game — each team will move through the sub-regional round regardless of a win or loss — a victory is still important. The winning team gets to host a game Friday while the loser travels.

"I just hope the team that shows up is the one that captured it in this building here instead of the one that showed up the first time," Whitt said.

West Morgan 65, Falkville 55: For the first time in seven games, the Rebels trailed at the half. And unlike the last time — against Tanner in January — West Morgan came back to win.

After taking a 2-0 lead to open the game, West Morgan fell behind because of some hot outside shooting from the Blue Devils (13-12). Falkville hit three of its first five treys to take a 13-4 lead midway through the first quarter.

But Bowling called timeout after the third one, and from there, the game began to turn.

The Rebels used a 14-7 run to end the first quarter down 20-18. The teams traded leads until the second quarter buzzer and Falkville led 31-30.

It would be the Blue Devils next-to-last lead of the night.

Micah Randolph scored 11 of his team-high 19 points in the second half and the Rebels pulled away.

"We just had to pick the intensity up in the second half," Randolph said. "We really just said we had to pick up the tempo on defense and start attacking the basket on offense."

Powell finished with 12 points, all in the first half, and 19 rebounds. Blake Gholston added 12 points, and David Pritchard had 11 to help push West Morgan into the finals.

West Morgan outrebounded Falkville 35-30, including 22-15 in the second half.

"We knew tonight was going to be a problem going in because we don't rebound well and they do," Falkville head coach Yancey Randolph said. "The difference was in the third quarter, they really picked it up defensively."

Heath Alford led Falkville with 19 points. Joseph Lacy added 13 points, and Thomas Holt had 10.

Tanner 102, Hatton 60: The Rattlers opened with a 32-4 advantage and never looked back, using highlight-reel dunks, a full-court press and an up-tempo offense to cruise.

But even with all of that, Tanner wasn't sure it would surpass 100 points for the first time this season. When it did on Yarbrough's 3-pointer, the fans, as well as the Tanner bench, went crazy.

"We were trying to do it all year but couldn't accomplish it," Byrd said. "Our coach, he just had the team prepared."

Byrd led all scorers with 24 points. Latraius Mosley added 13, and Richard Nasseri and Matt Smith each had 11.

Landon Campbell led Hatton (4-23) with 13 points. Caleb Hatton had 12, and Tevin Terrell tossed in 11.

The Rattlers hit only 37.4 percent from the floor, but then again, they took 91 shots. And they outrebounded Hatton 60-34. Tanner only turned the ball over nine times.

"Two of our goals was we wanted to get 55 rebounds and keep turnovers to under 10," Whitt said. "We took 91 shots and that's pretty high for us. We didn't shoot the ball quite as well as I had hoped."

After scoring only four points in the first quarter, the Hornets scored 56 the rest of the game and ended up finishing shooting 48 percent.

"We didn't quit," Hatton head coach Sonny Conwill said. "The things that have gotten us all year got us tonight — just inexperienced."

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