Spain Park overcomes early deficit to defeat rival Mountain Brook

Published 1:09 am Saturday, January 9, 2016

Justin Brown and the Spain Park Jaguars got the best of Mountain Brook in the first meeting of the season between the two teams. (Contributed / Ted Melton)

Justin Brown and the Spain Park Jaguars got the best of Mountain Brook in the first meeting of the season between the two teams. (Contributed / Ted Melton)

By AUSTIN FRANKLIN / Special to the Reporter

HOOVER – The Spain Park Jaguars overcame a shaky start to defeat area rival Mountain Brook by a final score of 77-65. Led by center Austin Wiley, the Jaguars established a rhythm on offense throughout the second half that proved too much for the Spartans to hold off.

The highly anticipated game started off with the visiting Spartans going on a 10-2 run in the first quarter. The Spartan’s dared the Jaguars to shoot the ball from behind the arch as they frequently double-teamed center Wiley through the first half.

With Mountain Brook committed to keeping the ball out of the paint, Spain Park was forced to readjust its offense to focus on the perimeter, and the move resulted in frequent turnovers in the opening half. Relying on their defense, Mountain Brook took a 15-8 lead into the second quarter.

While Mountain Brook’s defense was effective in stopping Spain Park in the early going, the Spartan offense was not able to capitalize on the other end of the court.

“There was a spot there where we made two or three threes early,” said Mountain Brook head coach Bucky McMillian. “I thought if we were able to keep hitting those threes the whole complexion of the game changes.”

As the second quarter progressed, the Spartans found themselves in foul trouble. In the penalty with seven minutes left in the first half, the Spartans were unable to play the same style of defense without sending the Jaguars to the free throw line.

Using the foul trouble to their advantage, Spain Park became more aggressive on offense, eventually taking a 32-28 lead into halftime. Jamal Johnson’s acrobatic lay-up, which drew a foul with a minute left in the half, punctuated Spain Park’s late half run.

The second half began with the Spartans and Jaguars trading baskets as both teams settled into an offensive rhythm. Mountain Brook’s Trendon Knight displayed his shooting ability throughout the second half, ultimately finishing with 22 points.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, the Jaguars long-range attack presented itself in the third quarter. Jamison Floyd hit back-to-back threes to start the third and forced Mountain Brook to respect the perimeter defensively, which opened up Wiley’s game in the paint.

With Wiley having room in the paint to move he proved difficult to guard, adding 12 points in the third and helping Spain Park enter the fourth with a lead of 53-42.

The fourth quarter saw the Spartans having to play from behind and being forced to take to many chances on defense. Unable to force the turnovers on defense they did earlier in the game, the Spartans were forced to simply trade baskets with the Jaguars until the end of regulation. Wiley was the main reason the Mountain Brook was forced to trade baskets as the center finished with 24 points, leading all scorers.

Johnson added 21 points for the Jaguars, in addition to the 16 from Floyd.

Watford led Mountain Brook in scoring with 22 points on the night.

After the game McMillian offered his take on the difference in the game.

“I know we forced ten turnovers in the first quarter, three the second and then halfway through the fourth quarter we only forced two,” he said. “We just didn’t force them to turn it over as much. We had some mental lapses on defense, but really we just didn’t turn them over.”

Spain Park head coach Donnie Quinn was excited after the win but made sure to note that the season is still young.

“Being 2-0 in area play is good, especially in a four team area,” Quinn said. “Hopefully we can get a few more games and then take a shot at them at their place. Because I don’t it to go down to a coin flip cause we’ve lost four of those in a row. So we don’t want to go there again, especially against Coach Bucky because he knows how to flip a coin.”

The two area teams meet again on January 19, which will be at Mountain Brook.