Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Tanner's Rod Byrd shows his displeasure about being whistled for an offensive foul against West Morgan in the regional finals Friday. Tanner will play R.C. Hatch in the Class 2A Final Four on Tuesday morning in Birmingham.
Byrd steps up
Tanner boys roll past West Morgan
By Brooke Milam
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2460
HANCEVILLE — In the middle of a tight back-and-forth battle with familiar foe West Morgan, Tanner boys basketball coach Chris Whitt called on Rattler senior Rod Byrd at halftime of the Class 2A Northwest Regional finals on Friday at Wallace State-Hanceville.
“He’s the one I can count on to take over the game in the second half,” Whitt said.
“I told him over on the bench to take over and he took over — made some big buckets.”
Tanner beat West Morgan 67-58 in the fourth time the two teams have faced each other this season.
The Rebels took the first of the four matchups before three straight Tanner wins in the series and the Rattlers win in the regional finals ended West Morgan’s season at 21-10.
“It gets tough to play a team over and over again,” Whitt said.
Tanner (27-5) will face defending state champion R.C. Hatch in the state semifinals Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at Birmingham’s Jefferson Civic Center.
R.C. Hatch beat Pickens County 71-56 in the Central Regional finals.
Friday against West Morgan, Tanner led 33-31 at halftime.
“First half, I thought we did what we needed to do, but in the second half we took a few bad shots and got a few bad breaks,” West Morgan coach Ricky Bowling said.
“But they’re a great team and I wish them well.”
Grant Harbin’s 3-pointer for West Morgan to open the game immediately was matched by Richard Nasseri, and was an indicator of how the first half would play out.
West Morgan was ahead 20-17 after the opening period.
Latraius Mosley gave Tanner a 22-20 lead early in the second quarter before a 3-pointer by West Morgan’s Jake Sparkman tied the game at 28 with four minutes left in the second.
Phillip Powell led West Morgan with 19 points, eight rebounds and two steals, while David Pritchard scored 12 with five rebounds, and Micah Randolph had 10 points and five boards.
Powell and Randolph were both named to the all-tournament team, along with Tanner’s Byrd and Mosley, who was the tournament’s most valuable player.
Whitt said that his team was prepared for Powell’s inside presence and just hoped to contain him.
“You’re not going to completely shut (Powell) down. He’s going to be there around the hole,” Whitt said.
A two-point game at halftime, the score stayed close in the third quarter.
Byrd led the Rattlers’ charge after the break, putting up all 13 of his points after halftime.
Teams traded baskets for much of the period and Byrd hit a 3-pointer with a minute left in the third, giving Tanner a 43-40 advantage heading into the fourth, and the Rattlers outscored West Morgan 24-18 in the final period.
“I feel like we had a lot of senior leadership, and I feel like coming in our seniors really thought we could win this game,” Bowling said.
“I thought we played hard enough to win, we just came up a little short at the end.”
Tanner’s balanced scoring attack was hard to match.
Four Rattlers scored in double digits, led by Mosley’s 22 points, while Demarcus King, Byrd and Nasseri added 13 apiece.
Mosley also had a game-high nine rebounds, while Clay McMeans had five boards, and King and Byrd each grabbed five.
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