Class 6A Central Regional Semifinal: 'Big Baby' steps up, leads Carver into finals against Thompson

Class 6A Central Regional Semifinal: 'Big Baby' steps up, leads Carver into finals against Thompson

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Class 6A Central Regional Semifinal: 'Big Baby' steps up, leads Carver into finals against Thompson

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Brandon Murphy pointed without hesitation, sure how the dance card will read if the G.W. Carver boys basketball team soon hoists a regional championship trophy.

The top-ranked Wolverines, with their “Big Baby” having his best game in more than a month, rolled over Spain Park 57-29 in Wednesday’s Class 6A Central Regional semifinals.

A win Friday vs. No. 7 Thompson would mean a fourth straight regional title for Carver (25-1) and another Acadome dance party. Tipoff is at 10:40 a.m.

And who else would take the first dance steps?

“That black boy over there,” the junior Murphy said, directing attention to senior Jeremy Johnson.

“I’m not going to do all that. I’m not a dancer.”

Murphy, a 6-foot-6 forward known as “Big Baby” since junior high, showed his best moves during the game Wednesday.

He finished with 12 points — his most since early January — and was 5-of-6 shooting. Murphy had six points in a first-quarter run that gave Carver a double-figure lead.

“We talked to him before the game and said he had to give us something,” said Johnson, who scored 17 points. “If it was just rebounding, or rebounding and scoring or passing, he had to give us something from this point on, and that’s what he did.”

Murphy pulled down six rebounds, one shy of team leader Demetrius Houston, blocked two shots and, perhaps most surprisingly, tied for the team lead in assists.

He, Johnson and point guard Zach Rumph had three each.

“If he’s going, it helps all of us get going,” Rumph said. “We talked to him and made sure he had his head on straight. We told him we needed him.”

Murphy had just two points in each of Carver’s last two playoff games. The Wolverines needed a last-second layup to win their subregional against Central-Phenix City by two points.

“That was a wake-up call,” Houston said. “We realize that we can be beat any day, and we know we have to give everything we have every day.”

Spain Park (15-18) missed 19 of its first 20 shots and finished at just 22 percent. Deion Wright’s seven points on 2-of-11 shooting led the Jags.

“Carver is the best team I’ve seen this season,” Spain Park coach Neal Barker said.

Johnson’s waltz, if Carver wins Friday, will fall short of such accolades. The Wolverines still grimace at the memory of his moves last year.

This year’s performance could be just as memorable.

“I don’t know what dance I’ll do yet, but it will be a good one,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be a surprise.”

Thompson 69,

Opelika 49

DeAndre Gamble scored 25 points and the Warriors (29-4) shot 65 percent in the second half to reach a regional final for the third time in school history.

Thompson lost in the Northwest Regional finals to Austin in 2007 and Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa in 2008.

“We’re excited about the chance to compete for a spot in the Final Four,” said Thompson coach Patrick Davis, who played at Huntingdon in 1999-2000. “They (Carver) are really good, and I know that’s not a shock.

“They’re really big and athletic.”

Gamble was 8-of-10 from the field and 9-of-9 on free throws. He also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Marcus Lewis added 15 points, Duke Thomas 13 and Caleb Johnson 11 for Thompson. T.J. Pressley had 24 points and Shontrez Tolbert 11 for Opelika (19-11).

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Class 6A Central Regional Semifinal: 'Big Baby' steps up, leads Carver into finals against Thompson
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