DOTHAN – The G.W. Carver Wolverines defeated Spanish Fort 55-34 to claim the Class 6A South Regional championship and earn a spot in next week’s state semifinals in Birmingham.
But you wouldn’t have been able to tell by looking at them.
Wolverines Antonio Nelson, Brandon Austin, Lyndell Wilson and assistant coach Merlakia Jones were business like after the game, saying it was just one step on their journey.
“Before the game even started, we talked about our destiny and our journey. We looked at the schedule and looked at each team that’s ahead of us. And along our journey, we knew that it was Spanish Fort,” Jones said. “So we said, ‘Spanish Fort is in our way, so we need to knock down Spanish Fort and then move on to Birmingham.’
“So our journey’s still not complete. We’re not content with going to Birmingham, we want to win in Birmingham and bring home the 6A state championship.”
Carver will play the winner of Shades Valley and Woodlawn, which play for the Northeast Regional title at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Jones filled in for head coach James “JJ” Jackson for a third straight playoff game while battling the flu. Jackson had stayed home the previous two games, but was behind the bench for the regional finals.
Jackson didn’t talk after the game, but he had to be pleased with Carver’s defensive effort. The Wolverines didn’t allow more than 10 points in a quarter, and held Spanish Fort to just 14 points in the second half.
Austin scored eight of his 13 points in the third quarter, sparking a 12-3 run at the end of the quarter to take a 43-27 lead into the final period.
Austin rebounded from a poor shooting regional semifinals and went 6-for-7 from the field, including 4-for-4 from 3-point range. He also had four steals and was named to the all-tournament team.
“It was kind of tough for me. I think my team stepped up very well for me not being able to hit shots,” Austin said. “The rim got very big to me. I think I had a little more confidence today, with my coaches helping me get to where I can help the team.”
Nelson was named the tournament MVP after scoring 12 points and grabbing five rebounds. Nelson also had two steals and two assists. He was speechless after the game.
“Tony’s the type of kid, he lets his actions speak for themselves,” Jones said.
Lyndell “Mack” Wilson showed the crowd in Dothan he’s more than just a 5-star linebacker. The 6-foot-3 post man had seven points, two rebounds and was named to the all-tournament team.
“I just thank God I’m gifted and athletic enough to play any sport I put my mind to play,” Wilson said.