A lot of Darren Golson’s strict instruction went somewhat ignored down the stretch Friday night.
But there was barely any visible signs of frustration on Golson’s face following Autaugaville’s 63-55 victory over Prattville in the Autauga County basketball tournament.
“Some of them didn’t do exactly what we wanted them to do, but what they did do was play real hard,” said Golson, Autaugaville boys basketball coach. “We had a lot of mistakes, but playing hard made up for a lot of that, so I let some of that stuff slide.”
The Eagles might have disregarded their coach’s wishes at times, but their scrappy, tireless effort on defense during the fourth period proved to be the difference. Prattville was held to just four points after holding a 51-49 edge after the third.
Senior Dillon Howard scored 23 points, and Davonta Wells added 21 for the Eagles (5-2), who will face Class 5A Marbury in today’s championship game at 6:30 p.m. Howard’s strong performance at the point helped put an end to Prattville’s four-year reign at the county tourney.
“We got to grow up, we got to grow up quick” Lions head coach Xavier Robinson said. “In order for us be successful down the stretch for the rest of the season, we got to be able to execute. We did not execute down on the offensive end, and we didn’t play defense the way we’re used to playing.”
Prattville isn’t the only one feeling empty.
Newcomer Prattville Christian entered its first-ever county tournament with high expectations, but those hopes were quickly dashed on the first night with Thursday’s stunning two-point setback to Marbury — a team the Panthers had defeated by at least 30 points twice already.
“Just to be able to be a part of the Autauga County tournament is a lot of fun for our program,” PCA head coach Jason Roberson said. “We wished we would have played better because we wanted to come in here to make the championship game — we just fell short.”
Jake Newcomb collected 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Adam Roberson scored 23 to lead PCA to a 79-23 victory over Class 1A Billingsley in the loser’s bracket on Friday. The Panthers, ranked fourth in Class 2A, will play Prattville for third place.
There weren’t any upsets or surprises during the girls tournament. Prattville steamrolled Billingsley (score, 77-19) and Autaugaville (score, 69-31) on back-to-back nights, while Prattville Christian blitzed Marbury by 32 points in the opener to advance to the championship round.
Today’s title matchup features two of the area’s top stars. Prattville’s Daniele Ewert and PCA’s Kristen Emerson attempt to outplay each other for the second straight time. Last year, Marbury beat the Lions behind the efforts of Emerson, who transferred to Prattville Christian following the 2011-12 academic year.
“PCA has a good team, and Kristen is a lot of it,” Prattville coach Virginia Barber said. “Daniele and Kristen have played travel ball together, played in the (North-South) game together, so they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Prattville will be playing its third game in as many nights.
“They’re out of school (for winter break) so they’re getting plenty of rest now,” said Barber, who has won the county tournament four times under her stint. “They get a chance to shoot around right before the game to get them ready, so I am not really worried about that.”