DOTHAN – After falling behind by double digits in the first half, the St. James Trojans rallied to tie Straughn in the fourth quarter of the Class 4A South Regional finals.
But defensive lapses — and unbelievable shooting by the Tigers — proved too much to overcome, and St. James lost 66-52 in the Dothan Civic Center on Wednesday.
“We didn’t get any stops. When you let them shoot 67 percent from the field and 10-for-12 for the half, that’s really not any missed shots,” St. James coach Nigel Card said. “I thought our defense was outstanding, but there were a couple of breakdowns here and there that allowed them to get some easy baskets.”
Straughn shot 67.7 percent for the game, including 10-for-12 in the second half. The Tigers also went 14-for-14 from the free-throw line in the second half and hit 19-of-20 for the game.
St. James was behind by one at the end of the first quarter, but Straughn opened the second quarter on a 12-0 run and led by 10 at the half.
The Trojans defense tightened in the third quarter, allowing just seven points. Sharp shooting from Jaylen McCoy and E.J. Card cut the deficit to 39-37 heading into the final period.
St. James tied it at 45-45 with 3:50 left, but it was downhill from there. Straughn answered with a 12-2 run to put it out of reach.
“The way they were hitting shots, it forced us to change our defense and go man-to-man so we could make sure we were close enough to their good players,” Card said. “Our pressure bothered them some, it allowed us to get in the ball game. It gave us an opportunity to get a better rhythm offensively, but we still didn’t get the necessary stops to close that game out.”
McCoy led the Trojans with 27 points. He hit six 3-pointers and had a pair of steals. Card added 15 points and four rebounds.
Post man Jalen Harris — an Auburn football signee — had eight points and three rebounds. Straughn coach Lomax Andrews said the Tigers’ strategy was to contain Harris inside.
“They were playing me pretty hard down in the post at the beginning of the game, I had assumed that was the game plan from the start. My coach told me to be ready for that,” Harris said. “But we’ve dealt with that all season and we’ve persevered, it just didn’t work out for us down the stretch.”