R.C. Hatch runs delay to perfection to down Eagles in finals

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 4, 2003

The R.C Hatch Bobcats ran the four corner delay offense the majority of the fourth period, thwarting a Calera comeback in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A championship at the BJCC last Thursday night.

&uot;They spread the ball out during the latter stages of the game and it frustrated us a little,&uot; Calera head coach Robert Burdette said.

&uot;We made a run in the second half after falling behind early, but we got ourselves in too much of a hole to recover.&uot;

Burdette said while the loss was disappointing, his team had a good season.

&uot;We only lost four game,&uot; Burdette said. &uot;That’s a good season. We wanted to win it all, but we made a good run. I had (a friend) ask me if I thought we were turning into the Atlanta Braves of high school basketball &045; being able to go all the way but not win the big one. I just told him I would rather be the Atlanta Braves than the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.&uot;

The Bobcats outscored the Eagles 23-10 in the first period and at one point ran up a 19-2 lead . The Eagles cut that lead to 38-28 at the end of the second period and in the third period made it a four-point game at 38-34.

At the end of the third period the Bobcats clung to a 53-43 lead before running the four corner delay in the final period of play. The Eagles’ defense did manage to cause turnovers in the fourth period and cut the lead to five points with under a minute and a half to play.

R.C. Hatch center and tournament MVP Billy Campbell missed a dunk at the 1:30 mark of the final period and Calera’s C.J. Pearson immediately hit a three-pointer to cut into the lead.

The three-point shot was Calera’s only of the game.

A big contributor to the Eagles’ loss was the fact that the team only shot six free throws on the night compared to 29 from R.C. Hatch.

The Eagles hit 3-of-6 from the line while Hatch hit a blistering 22-of-29 (76 percent) from the line.

Bobcat head coach Eugene Mason said free throws played a major role in the win.

&uot;We put a lot of emphasis on free throws prior to the game,&uot; Mason said. &uot;We knew Calera’s history and success in the Final Four and we knew we needed everything we could get to get a win.&uot;

Another contributor to the loss was the fact that Hatch scored 12 second-chance points to Calera’s four.

George Drake paced the Eagles with 16 points, three rebounds, three steals, three assists and one blocked shot. Charlie Jones scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Pearson and Trey Russell were the only other Eagles in double figures with 10 points.

Calera shot only 10 percent from behind the three-point arc, going 1-of-10 on the night.

The Eagles made it to the finals by way of an 85-66 win over Pisgah in the semifinals.

Calera trailed Pisgah 52-46 at the end of the third period before turning up the defensive pressure the entire length of the floor.

Calera outscored Pisgah an amazing 39-14 in the fourth quarter to run away with the win.

Jones led Calera with 27 points and six rebounds. Drake chipped in 18 points and four steals in the win.

Dusty Downs scored 15 points for Calera, including 8-of-11 from the free throw line. T.J. Green was the only other Eagle in double figures with 10 points while Pearson scored nine.

Calera shot 61 percent from the floor in the semifinal win.

Jones and Drake were named to the All-Tournament team.

The Eagles finished the season with a 31-4 record