No four-peat for Pickens County
Mon. February 18, 2013 at 8:56 p.m. | By Andrew Carroll
Pickens County's senior Bobby Bradford (11) came up short in his bid for a fourth straight state championship. (Photo by Robert Sutton)
MONTGOMERY | Bobby Bradford earned three state championship rings, but he wanted a fourth.
Bradford’s basketball career at Pickens County came to an end Monday as St. Jude defeated the Tornadoes 67-47 in the AHSAA Class 1A Central Regional.
St. Jude, ranked No. 1 in the AHSAA Class 1A poll, started the fourth quarter with a 40-35 lead and erupted for 27 points.
Pickens County (18-8) came in as a three-time defending champion. LaRon Thomas and Bradford, senior guards and co-captains, were on the teams that won the Class 2A championship in 2010 and back-to-back Class 1A titles.
"They had athletic ability and size, and they outhustled us," Bradford said.
St. Jude (25-6) had a height advantage with sophomore forwards Tommy Burton and Andrew Rogers.
The 6-foot-8 Burton had 18 points, eight rebounds, four blocked shots, two steals and an assist. The 6-5 Rogers had 13 points and 17 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end. He recorded five assists, five blocked shots and two steals.
LaDarius Brinson added 12 points for the Pirates, and Kiante Bell scored eight points.
"They stretched it out in the second half," said Patrick Plott, Pickens County’s second-year head coach. "All the credit goes to those guys. They played good on offense and played good defense against us."
St. Jude started the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run. Rogers made a layup, and Burton followed with three baskets to increase the lead to 48-35. Pickens County’s first points of the quarter came on two free throws by Devonte Simon with 5:14 left. St. Jude answered with a dunk by Rogers.
"It was disappointing," Plott said. "They got too many chances on offensive rebounds. They got behind us a few times with their quick point guard. Every time we made a run, they had an answer."
Bradford led the Tornadoes with 20 points and eight rebounds. He had three steals and two assists. Thomas had eight points and seven rebounds. Simon scored seven points, and Rhaheem Curry had six.
"I’ll remember the three rings," Bradford said. "We worked hard, and I had fun over the year."
Plott said senior Terrien Steele and Simon, a junior, were part of two championship teams.
"We’ve got some guys that accomplished a lot," Plott said. "It’s not the way we wanted it to end for them, but sometimes it turns out like that."
Reach Andrew Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0223.