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Nightmare ends Tigers' dream season

By Paul Stackhouse
sports@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

HARTSELLE — It was the kind of game that coaches have nightmares about.

And it happened to the kind of team that Hartselle coach Johnny Berry dreamt for.

Berry's boys basketball team fell 63-17 in the Northwest sub-regional at home Friday night after scoring only two points in the opening half.

Afterward, Berry let the tears flow as he absorbed a loss for a team that he had grown to like so much.

"One of the reasons I've been so close to this team is because of the way they've performed this year even though they faced a lot of adversity," said Berry, whose team finished 20-13 after winning only twice last season.

"After winning just two games, a lot of people were saying things like we need to change the coaches, we need to change this and we need to change that. I personally heard a lot of the talk.

Berry added: "But this group of players stood behind me and the other coaches all the way. They were 100 percent behind us from day one."

He paused to wipe away more tears. "They bounced back and won 20 games this season," Berry said. "They were determined to do that and they did."

Muscle Shoals rocketed to a fast start. The Trojans led 9-2 at the end of the first quarter and 25-2 at halftime.

"We couldn't make any shots and that's my fault," Berry said. "Coach (Gary) Orr and Coach (Keith) Wright did their job in getting our team ready defensively. I'm in charge of offense, and we just could not make a shot."

Alex Brown led Hartselle in scoring with eight points.

Greg Johnson led Muscle Shoals (25-6) with 12 points.

"Their shots just didn't fall, and ours did," Muscle Shoals coach Dennis Connor said. "I know what Hartselle is capable of and I told our guys at the half to be ready to battle because they're not the kind of team that is going to give up. We may have had a good lead, but no matter how far up we were I just couldn't get comfortable. I'm serious about saying that, too."

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