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Paul W. Bryant advaces to Class 5A semifinals


Paul W. Bryant’s James Currington III dunks the ball in the first half against Shelby County in the Class 5A Central Regional final. (Photo by Robert Sutton)


MONTGOMERY | Led by seniors James Currington, Tony Whitehead and Dexter Hood, the Paul W. Bryant boys basketball team made history Thursday.

All three scored in double figures as the Stampede defeated Shelby County 52-44 to win the Class 5A Central Regional championship. Paul W. Bryant (30-3) qualified for the AHSAA semifinal round for the first time since the school opened in 2003. Coach Shon Peck-Love’s team will play the Northwest qualifier, Parker or Wenonah, at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex.

"We knew coming in that Shelby County was going to be tough," Peck-Love said. "We knew we had to play good defense in taking care of their two big guys down low. We just knew it was going to be one of those hard-fought games.

"The guys stepped up when they played hard. This was something they had been working for. They knew what was at stake. I didn’t have to say much before the game."

Currington, Whitehead and Hood were on the 2012 team that was the Central Regional runner-up.

Paul W. Bryant built a 24-18 halftime lead and outscored the Wildcats 17-6 in the third quarter. Currington, Hood and Whitehead combined for 13 points in the quarter.

Shelby County (28-7) rallied a bit, but the closest the Wildcats got was 49-42 when Cedric Youngblood hit a 3-pointer with less than a minute left.

The 6-foot-6 Currington, who made the All-Tournament team, had 18 points, seven rebounds, four steals and two assists.

"We didn’t want the same feeling we had when we lost against Sylacauga last year," Currington said. "We had to keep the big boys off the glass. Our guards did a good job of denying (Tyler Madison). He’s a good basketball player. We just had to crash the boards and get rebounds. Tony and I and the senior leadership kept the team up."

Whitehead had 12 points, eight rebounds, three steals and an assist. A 6-4 forward, Whitehead slammed in a basket in the fourth quarter, but he also showed his range by sinking a couple of jumpers.

"We work hard every day in practice, and that’s something I’ve been working on," he said. "I think it helps our team a lot that I can be able to knock down jump shots or drive to the hole."

Hood, the most valuable player, had 10 points. Kevin Holland had seven points, five assists and three rebounds.

Brandon McKinney, a 6-6 forward, had 11 points and eight rebounds for Shelby County. Youngblood made three 3-pointers and scored 11 points. Madison, a 6-4 forward, had six points and eight rebounds. He had 24 points and nine rebounds in the semifinal win against Sumter Central.

Madison and McKinney made the All-Tournament team along with Sumter Central’s JyKwentin Johnson and Talladega’s Ahmad Gooden.

 

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.