Jaguars look to cap run with title
A historic run for Spain Park boys basketball continued on Friday, as the Jaguars advanced to their first-ever Final Four with a 92-76 win over Gadsden City.
It was a record-breaking day at the Northeast Regional. For the first time in the 14 years of hosting the tournament, officials at Jacksonville State University locked the doors of Pete Mathews Coliseum due to a capacity crowd.
An estimated 5,500 fans filled the coliseum with Spain Park-blue on one side and Gadsden City-maroon on the other, Intensity grew with every play in the tightly played first quarter.
&8220;It was great. Knowing that everybody was there missing class to support us. It was big. Hopefully we&8217;ll have even more on Thursday,&8221; junior guard Josh Magette said of tomorrow&8217;s 1:30 p.m. semifinal with top-ranked LeFlore.
&8220;We hear about (LeFlore) all the time and watch them on TV, so we know they&8217;re great. We&8217;re really going to have to come out and play our best against them,&8221; senior point guard Jay Prater said.
The Jaguars held a small 21-17 margin at the end of the first eight minutes of play Friday, but out played the Titans 23-12 in the second period to take a 44-29 lead into the half, while shooting 68 percent from the field, including 5-of-8 from the 3-point arc.
&8220;We&8217;re getting big shots right now,&8221; Jaguars head coach Brian Moon said. &8220;We felt like if we just didn’t turn it over regularly, then we thought we ought to be able to get some good shots… I expect to win. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be here.&8221;
The scoring performance didn&8217;t stop at halftime, but improved. The Jaguars shot 82.4 percent from the floor in the second half and 73.9 percent from the free throw line to finish the game with an impressive field goal performance.
&8220;We shot 74 percent,&8221; Magette said to Prater while pointing to the stat sheet at the post game press conference.
&8220;That&8217;s not bad,&8221; Prater said.
The backcourt duo combined to shoot 13-of-18 from the floor, including 6-of-9 from the arc. Magette&8217;s 10-of-11 free throws gave him a game-high 26 points, while Prater followed with 20 points. Three others filed in rank with double-figure scoring performances.
After scoring the most points ever in a Class 6A Northeast Regional final, the Jags now look to live out their dream in the BJCC.
&8220;It’s a dream for me. I never thought it would be a reality, but it’s finally happening. It’s going to be one of the funnest experiences I’ve had in my life,&8221; Prater said, as he hopes to end his career with a title
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