Briarwood wins Chelsea tournament

As the final seconds counted off the clock Nov. 26, Briarwood’s Johnny Balik tossed up a shot to take the lead. The shot missed the mark, but Carter Tanner tipped it in to lift Briarwood Christian over Oak Mountain, 46-45, in the Chelsea Thanksgiving Classic final.

Ronnie Mack’s half-court shot for Oak Mountain was off the mark, giving the Lions the tournament victory.

“It skyrockets the team’s confidence, but I hope not too much,” BCS head coach Chris Laatch said. “I hope our guys still see they’ve got a lot of room to improve upon.”

The confidence comes not only from winning a tournament but also beating teams the Lions were stomped by last year. Briarwood lost to Oak Mountain last season by 25 points in the Fultondale Christmas tournament and lost to Thompson by 30-plus in the 2007 Chelsea Thanksgiving Classic.

Entering the tournament, 2-2, something clicked for the Lions, setting a school record for fewest points allowed in a 55-17 win over Pelham Nov. 24.

Senior Matt Outlaw led the Lions with 18 points in the game and went on to earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team. Leading the All-Tournament team was Balik, who had 20 points in the final against Oak Mountain. Tanner’s tip-in gave him 16 points in the game.

Briarwood (5-2) beat Thompson (1-5) in the semifinal, 56-55. Balik led the Lions with 21 points, while Kenny Johnson scored 12 for the Warriors.

Corey Baxter led Oak Mountain (4-3) in the tournament final with 17 points, while Mack had 11.

Landers Champman had six points to lead Pelham (0-5) in the first game.