Spain Park regains upper hand in hoops rivalry with Hoover

It didn’t take long for the Spain Park High School Jaguars to regain the upper hand in their boys’ basketball rivalry with Hoover.

After owning the series between the two Class 6A, Area 10 foes for a number of years, the Jags fell in both meetings with the Bucs last season.

Spain Park regained the upper hand Tuesday night, ending Hoover’s two-game winning streak in the series with a 49-44 win over the Bucs.

Senior guard Reid Cunningham nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:22 remaining in the game to give the Jags a 45-42 lead. After a back-and-forth battle, Spain Park held the lead throughout the final minute.

Spain Park head coach Brian Moon said he was pleased to see Cunningham, who finished with 13 points in the win, hit the game-winning shot.

“He’s really the heart and soul of our team,” Moon said. “He’s a heck of a player. He’s the most unselfish kid I’ve ever coached. He doesn’t care who scores, he just wants the team to do well.”

Senior forward Josh Drum led the Jaguars (14-6, 3-1 in Class 6A, Area 10) with 15 points. Senior forward Matthew Bowerman added 13 points. Jake Lee and Kristoff Carter chipped in four points each as five players accounted for all of Spain Park’s points.

Hoover hit two 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Bucs jumped out to a 12-7 lead after the opening period.

Drum and Bowerman gave the Jags a solid presence in the post in the second quarter, which opened things up for Cunningham driving to the basket and on the perimeter. Cunningham scored 10 of his 13 points in the second quarter as Spain Park rallied to tie the game at 23-all before a late 3-pointer by the Bucs gave Hoover a 26-23 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.

Solid post play by Drum, Bowerman and Carter helped the Jags take a 34-30 lead late in the third quarter. However, Spain Park had to go to a smaller lineup after Drum picked up his third foul and Carter was whistled for his fourth foul late in the quarter.

The Bucs hit a 3-pointer late in the third quarter to cut the Spain Park lead to 34-33. The two teams traded the lead throughout the fourth quarter before Cunningham’s clutch 3-pointer gave the Jags the lead for good.

Moon said Drum and Bowerman, a pair of 6-foot-5 forwards, create problems for opponents with their length.

“We’re a tough matchup,” Moon said. “We’ve got a pretty good little tandem in the post.”

Moon said picking up an area win over the Bucs helps Spain Park remain in the hunt for the Class 6A, Area 10 title. The Jags are tied for the area lead with Oak Mountain. The Eagles handed Spain Park its only area loss last month.

Spain Park faces another Area 10 foe, Pelham, Friday night.

“(The win over Hoover) was huge,” Moon said. “Our loss to Oak Mountain doesn’t leave us much room for error. We’ve got a much improved Pelham team next. They’re capable of beating anybody in our area. You couldn’t say that last year.”