Austin falls in area finals
By Josh Cooper
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HARVEST — Austin High guard Jay Sears saved his most emphatic two points for last. With time running out, Sears darted down the lane and threw down a powerful two-handed jam.
It was more fury induced than anything, as Sears used his athleticism to voice his frustration in Austin's 65-58 loss to Sparkman in the Class 6A, Area 16 tournament finals Monday.
"It was anger from the whole game," said Sears, who had a game high 33 points. "We're going to come out tomorrow for practice and give it all we have. That's what we have to do."
Next for Austin (16-13) is a sub-regional game Friday at Hazel Green.
On Monday, however, it was the guard play of the Senators (22-8) played a big role in the first half. In the second half, it was the inside game. In both instances, Austin had no answer for G.W. Boon and Aubrey Bethea.
Boon carried Sparkman in the first 16 minutes scoring 13 of his team-high 19 points. During that time, Bethea was lurking underneath the basket, waiting for Austin to start keying on Boon.
And in the second half that was exactly what happened.
The Senators started driving the lane and when a guard penetrated, Bethea was left open. In the second half he had seven points 11 rebounds as part of a nine-point, 13-rebound night
"They did a good job of going inside and outside," said Austin coach Demond Garth. "Boon did a good job in the first half. Great players make great plays in tough situations."
Meanwhile, the Black Bears couldn't get any of their secondary options going. George Williams who had 18 points against Bob Jones in Austin's previous game was held to four points.
Travis Cohn showed explosiveness with his leaping ability by throwing down two dunks, but not much else with four points.
Verkeneo Mann had 12 points.
"That had to do with Sparkman," Garth said of Austin's difficulty with its scoring balance. "They played great defense.
In a hostile environment at Sparkman, Austin held its own for most of the game. Playing against the No. 10 ranked team in the state, Austin had a one point lead after the first quarter and was down 28-24 at halftime.
The turning point could have come at the 6:29 mark of the third quarter when Garth was called for a technical foul.
Though it sounded like Garth used no offensive language, Sparkman went on a 9-0 run to push the score the 37-26.
Austin closed the gap to 42-39 with 2:23 left in the third, but that was the closest the Black Bears got the rest of the way.
"We were so worried about Boon that we didn't do much to defend Bethea," Cohn said. "He scored a lot of garbage buckets in the second half.
"For the next game we just have to focus in practice. If we focus in practice, we will be focused for the game."
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