Spain Park takes down Pelham

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Austin Wiley of Spain Park denies Alex Reese of Pelham at the rim during the Jaguars' 73-51 win on Dec. 8. (Contributed / Ted Melton)

Austin Wiley of Spain Park denies Alex Reese of Pelham at the rim during the Jaguars’ 73-51 win on Dec. 8. (Contributed / Ted Melton)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

HOOVER – The biggest names in Alabama basketball converged on Spain Park High School on Dec. 8 to watch the Jaguars take on Pelham High School in a pre-Christmas matchup. Bruce Pearl from Auburn, Avery Johnson from Alabama and Jarod Haase from UAB were all in attendance to watch the four Division I prospects on the court. Spain Park, playing at home, used its superior depth and guard play to get past Pelham by a final of 73-51.

The headlining matchup of the evening pitted the two best big men in the state against each other. Austin Wiley of Spain Park and Alex Reese of Pelham, both juniors, are ranked in the top-50 nationally in the class of 2017, and both played well in their first meeting of the 2015-16 season. Wiley has a bigger frame than Reese and is more of a traditional post player while Reese is more agile, and can operate facing the basket from 20 feet as he can on the low block.

“I don’t know who got the better of who tonight, honestly,” Spain Park head coach Donnie Quinn said after the game. “They both played pretty well. Austin missed a few close ones tonight, I’m not sure if Reese missed a shot all night.”

The Jaguars never trailed in this one, and after opening up a quick 7-0 lead in the first quarter, they never led by less than four the rest of the way. While Wiley vs. Reese Part I was the main attraction, the two did not spend the entire game guarding each other. Spain Park had Justin Brown hound Reese the whole first half, which allowed Wiley to camp out around the rim defensively, altering a number of Panther shots in the process. At the half Spain Park led 30-19, and Pelham only scored six points the entire second period.

The Jaguars superior depth and athleticism proved to be too much for Pelham in the second half. Between the play of Brown, Wiley and Jamal Johnson along with contributions from Jameson Floyd and Bailey Defaleo, Spain Park kept the throttle on in the second half and widened the gap over the Panthers. Reese did what he could to keep Pelham close, scoring 10 points in the third quarter, but could not singlehandedly keep the Panthers alive, and 51-36 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Panthers were noticeably worn down by the fourth quarter, and Spain Park got the 22-point win, which surprised Quinn slightly.

“I’m surprised a little bit,” Quinn said. “Obviously playing at home is huge, it probably would have been closer at a neutral gym. I think they got tired, our bench is a little deeper than theirs is.”

Reese led all scorers with 29 points while Wiley finished with 17 to lead Spain Park.