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Paul W. Bryant comeback falls short


Paul Bryant's James Currington III (5) and Wenonah's Isaiah Maston look to an official for a ruling on possession as they battle for the ball in Wednesday's Class 5A semifinal, won 61-59 by Wenonah. (Photo by Mark Almond | AL.com)


BIRMINGHAM | The Paul W. Bryant boys basketball team fought back Wednesday in the AHSAA Class 5A semifinals but couldn’t pull off a miracle.

Dexter Hood’s 3-point attempt bounced off the back of the rim as time expired, and two-time defending champion Wenonah escaped with a 61-59 victory.

Hood, a senior guard, pulled the Stampede within two points when he scored with an offensive rebound. Wenonah’s Ty’Qwan Bonner went to the free-throw line with 4.7 seconds remaining but missed both attempts. Hood managed to make his way into the frontcourt before launching his desperation shot.

"I had a decent look," said Hood, who had 15 points, six rebounds and two steals. "I felt like I could have knocked down the shot, but it just didn’t fall."

All Paul W. Bryant coach Shon Peck-Love could do was watch the trajectory of the ball in the air and hope.

"I knew it wasn’t going to be all net, but I thought it might go off the backboard and go in," Peck-Love said. "But it didn’t."

Wenonah (33-2) was ranked No. 1 in the final Alabama Sports Writers Association poll. Paul W. Bryant, a first-time qualifier for the AHSAA Tournament, was No. 2. The Stampede, a team with seven seniors, concluded the best basketball season in school history with a 30-4 record.

"I think the guys stood up and played great," Peck-Love said. "A couple of missed free throws and offensive rebounds, and we’re sitting here talking to you as the winner. That’s the way it bounces, though."

Paul W. Bryant trailed 45-33 at the end of the third quarter but outscored the Dragons 26-16 the rest of the way.

"They put up a great effort, I mean a Herculean effort the way they performed," Peck-Love said. "At one point, we were down 11 or 12. Against a good team like Wenonah, it’s easy to tuck your tail and give up, but they didn’t. They fought back. They gave themselves every chance to win. It just wasn’t our day."

Kevin Holland, a junior guard, had 15 points, five assists and four rebounds for the Stampede. Senior forward Tony Whitehead had eight points and nine rebounds. Senior forward James Currington scored seven points and led the Stampede with 12 rebounds. David Freeman made two 3-pointers to score six points.

De’Runnya Wilson, a 6-foot-6 forward, scored 19 points and had 13 rebounds for Wenonah. Isaiah Maston had 14 points and five rebounds. Point guard Justin Coleman finished with 13 points, scoring 11 in the first half.

Coleman recorded his three assists during the second quarter as the Dragons outscored the Stampede 22-10 to take a 34-22 halftime lead.

"We knew we were going to have to limit his (Coleman) touches and keep him out of the lane," Peck-Love said. "He broke it open kind of midway in the first half, not necessarily by scoring but just making good passes leading to easy to baskets. He had his handprint all over the game in that first half."

Wenonah plays Center Point in the championship game at 7 p.m. Friday in the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. Center Point defeated Faith Academy 56-39.

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