Wildcats storm back late, advance to Elite Eight
By MICKEL PONTHIEUX / Sports Reporter
MONTGOMERY – The Shelby County Wildcats were able to keep up with the Sumter Central Jaguars and surged late to claim a 50-47 Class 5A Central Region semifinal victory Feb. 19 at Alabama State University’s Dunn-Oliver Acadome.
“It was a really good game,” said Wildcats’ head coach Torry Brown on the win. “Sumter Central has a really good team. We just wanted to stay in the game and hang around and have a chance to win in the fourth quarter.”
The Wildcats (28-6) jumped out to a 10-6 lead midway through the first quarter, but Sumter Central closed the opening eight minutes with a 7-0 run to take a 13-10 lead. The Jaguars opened the second on a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 19-10. Shelby County went on a 12-3 run to even the score at 22, but trailed 23-22 at the half.
The Jaguars led as much as five points to start the second half, but the Wildcats outscored Sumter Central 10-5 to even the game 32-32 heading into the final quarter.
Shelby County fought to tie the game four times to start the fourth before taking their first lead of the second half when Emmanuel Hall made a second-chance basket to for a 43-42 advantage.
“We wanted to try to get the ball to the glass and give our big guys a chance to rebound,” said Brown on the second-chance opportunities.
Hall’s basket was the beginning of a 10-5 run that carried the Wildcats to the 50-47 win.
Shelby County senior Tyler Madison led the Wildcats with 24 points – including 12-for-12 from the free throw line – and nine rebounds. Brandon McKinney added a double-double scoring 14 points with 12 rebounds. Hall finished with seven points.
The Wildcats advance to the 5A Central Region finals where they will play Paul Bryant Feb. 21 at 4:40 p.m.