Altercation mars Spain Park win over Hoover

Spain Park High School boys’ basketball coach Brian Moon envisioned a worst-case scenario in the final seconds of his team’s contest against rival Hoover in the Class 6A, Area 10 tournament at Oak Mountain High School.

Moon wasn’t worried about the outcome of the game. It had pretty much already been decided in the Jaguars’ favor, with Spain Park defeating its rival 57-35.

The veteran coach was concerned about what he was about to witness as he saw a Hoover player charging toward one of his players.

The actions by Hoover junior forward Roderick Booker following a loose ball situation stirred the Bucs’ bench, which created chaos on the neutral court and delayed the game for approximately 10 minutes.

In the end, six Hoover players and Bucs’ head coach Charles Burkett were assessed technical fouls. Booker, who was restrained by the Bucs’ coaching staff, was ejected for his lack of control on the court and five others were sent to the locker room for leaving the team’s bench. Video replay, which showed Booker and teammate Jaron Davis each throwing an open-handed punch, shows five Hoover players leaving the bench area.

Booker initiated the incident by shoving Spain Park senior Bennett Snyder from behind. Booker then threw an open-handed punch in the direction Spain Park senior Reid Cunningham, who shoved Booker in response. Cunningham, who was also the target of an open-handed punch by Davis, was restrained by senior teammate Matthew Bowerman.

Burkett was also ejected due to a National Federation of State High School Associations rule that states a coach is automatically ejected after three technical fouls by his team.

Moon, who said administrators from both Hoover and Spain Park are scheduled to meet with Alabama High School Athletic Association officials Monday, was pleased cooler heads prevailed with the gym packed on both the top and bottom levels. Host Oak Mountain and Thompson fans were in the gym awaiting the start of their game.

“It could have been worse,” Moon said. “I think Hoover (police officers) and Shelby County (sheriff’s deputies) did a great job. That situation could get ugly.”

Moon gave credit to his players for keeping their emotions in check.

“It was right in front of the (Hoover) bench,” Moon said. “Sometimes emotion gets the best of you. I would like to think our guys would have control if it was in front of our bench.”

The last-minute drama capped an exciting battle in the fourth meeting between the two teams this season.

Hoover took control in the first quarter, capping the opening period with a layup to extend its lead to 16-9 after the first eight minutes.

Spain Park rallied in the second quarter to take a 28-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Senior forward Matthew Bowerman’s personal 4-0 run early in the second quarter sparked the Jaguars, who outscored Hoover 19-10 in the period.

The Jags extended their lead to as many as seven points in the third quarter before the Bucs cut the lead to 37-33 heading into the fourth quarter.

Bowerman took over again early in the fourth quarter with a layup and 3-pointer to push the Jags’ lead to seven points. Senior forward Josh Drum scored a layup to push the lead to 44-35 midway through the fourth quarter.

Bowerman hit 9-of-12 free throws after the Bucs were assessed seven technical fouls, which pushed the Jags’ lead to 20 points. Senior guard Edgar Dominguez hit the final two free throws.

Bowerman led Spain Park (22-9) with 26 points. Drum added eight points and Dominguez chipped in seven points.

Spain Park finished 3-1 against its biggest rival this season with the victory. The Jaguars advanced to the Class 6A, Area 10 championship game Feb. 8 at 7 p.m., where they will face host Oak Mountain.

Moon credited his team for bouncing back after a rough start.

“We got down early,” Moon said. “We came back and made some plays. This time of year, you’ve got to be able to make plays.”