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Aliceville falls to Luverne


Aliceville’s Joe Robinson fouls Luverne’s Preston Sankey during the Class 2A Central Regional final at the Acadome in Montgomery on Friday. Luverne won, 59-44. (Photo by Julie Bennett)


MONTGOMERY | The final 4:33 of Friday’s Class 2A Central Regional championship game will be an ending Aliceville coach Joe Hurst won’t soon forget.

The Yellow Jackets appeared to have control, keeping Luverne at bay early in the fourth quarter with a six-point edge at Alabama State’s Acadome.

However, Luverne swung the momentum in its favor and all Hurst could do was painfully watch his squad collapse down the stretch, dropping a 59-44 decision to cancel any hopes of reaching the state tournament in Birmingham.

"I see 4:33 left in the ballgame and that’s when we just lost our composure and went against our plan," said Hurst, whose team was outscored 25-6 and committed five costly turnovers in the fourth. "The most disciplined team won that ballgame tonight."

The Aliceville (20-6) trio of Joe Robinson, Derek Jones and Anfernee Mullins were named to the all-tournament team. Robinson’s 10 points led the Yellow Jackets.

Luverne reserve James Campos’ layup off an inbounds steal signaled the beginning of the end for Aliceville, which trailed 46-42 on a tip-in by Gerald Sterling on the every next possession. Luverne (23-9) closed out the contest behind a 13-2 surge.

"All year long we’ve never quit no matter how far we were up or down," Luverne coach Richard Dorsey said. "We’ve played in a lot of tough games where we either won at the buzzer or lost at the buzzer. They just never, never quit – that’s the mentality that they have."

The Yellow Jackets never ran their press breaker correctly despite several timeouts.

"We been in games like this before, we would regroup and come back and win," Hurst said. "We stuck to our game plan, but we really did get back to our game plan. I am not mad that we loss, but I am more upset about how we finished the game.

Tonight we didn’t finish the game."

It’s back to the drawing board for Hurst and his squad.

"We had a great season," said Hurst, who losses five seniors. "Overall, we had a great season. We thought if we could have put together once more winning streak we could win the state tournament. We should have been here last year."

Preston Sankey scored 18 points, DeAnthony Rutledge had 16 and 11 rebounds for the Tigers, who also received 11 points, 11 boards and five blocks from tournament MVP Donta Hall. Luverne faces the winner of the Northwest regional at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the BJCC.