Jaguars hold off Spartans in area victory

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

Spain Park High School boys’ basketball coach Neal Barker isn’t prepared to call his team the favorite in Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A, Area 12 despite the Jaguars’ 66-56 win over Mountain Brook in an area battle Jan. 20.

The victory gave the Jaguars a regular-season sweep against the Spartans, but Barker knows another Class 6A, Area 12 still has a chance to impact the area standings down the stretch — Vestavia Hills.

“I know the Rebels are after us,” Barker said. “That victory put us in the lead. It’s not over by any stretch. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Senior forward Blake Dudchock gave the smaller Mountain Brook lineup trouble in the paint on his way to a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds in the victory. While the Jaguars had their way in the paint, Spain Park held Mountain Brook star guard Mario Stramaglia to only six points in the game. Stramaglia entered the game averaging 19 points per game.

“We played well on defense and that’s what helped us win this game tonight,” Dudchock said. “We stopped their runs.”

Senior guard Rembert Martin led the Jaguars (16-9 overall, 3-1 in Class 6A, Area 12) with 18 points in the victory.

Senior guard Robby Prater added 11 points and dished out a team-high four assists. Senior guard Eric Washington chipped in nine points. Sophomore guard Austin Jones contributed seven points.

Junior guard Deion Wright contributed six points off the bench in the first half. Senior guard Sean Taylor finished with two points and led the Jaguars with three steals.

The Jaguars jumped out to a commanding lead early in the game following a jumper by Martin with 59 seconds remaining in the first quarter, which capped a 12-0 run and gave Spain Park a 16-3 lead.

“That was key to our victory tonight,” Barker said. “From there on, we pretty much played even. We were able to just hang on.”

Spain Park led by as many as 14 points in the second quarter, 19-5, following a free throw by Dudchock with 7:28 left in the first half. Mountain Brook cut the lead to 23-16 heading into the locker room at halftime.

The Spartans closed the gap to five points, 25-20, early in the third quarter before Spain Park pushed its lead back to 14 points late in the period. Jones converted a three-point play with 2:23 remaining in the third quarter to give the Jaguars a 41-27 advantage.

Mountain Brook cut the deficit to 47-41 midway through the fourth quarter following a 7-0 run, but Spain Park answered with a 6-0 run to push its lead back to double digits. Taylor knocked down two free throws with 3:56 left in the game to give the Jaguars a 53-41 advantage.

Mountain Brook cut the deficit to eight points, 57-49, with just more than one minute remaining, but Martin scored two baskets in the final minute to help Spain Park seal its eighth-consecutive home victory.

Spain Park knocked down 24-of-30 free throw attempts in the win. Prater knocked down 7-of-8 free throws in the second half, including 3-of-4 in the final 20 seconds, to help the Jaguars hold off the Spartans.

“We were fortunate to beat (Mountain Brook), especially twice this year,” Barker said.

GIRLS

The Spain Park High School girls’ basketball team defeated Mountain Brook 64-56 in an Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A, Area 12 contest Jan. 20.

Whitney Gulledge led the Jaguars (16-10 overall, 3-1 in Class 6A, Area 12) with 15 points in the victory. Gulledge also grabbed four rebounds, recorded two steals and dished out two assists in the win.

Jessica Freeman, who grabbed four rebounds, and Ashley Gaston added 14 points each. Kathryn Boswell chipped in nine points, nine assists and four rebounds.

Victoria Baldwin contributed six points and a team-high nine rebounds. Jasmine Moore finished with four points. Jasmine Hollis added two points and six rebounds.