Spartans throttle Jags in payback game

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Justin Brown and the Spain Park Jaguars could not keep pace with Mountain Brook on Jan. 19, and lost by a final of . (File)

Justin Brown and the Spain Park Jaguars could not keep pace with Mountain Brook on Jan. 19, and lost by a final of 66-47. (File)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor 

MOUNTAIN BROOK – Mountain Brook started running from the moment the ball was tipped on Jan. 19 in Spartan Arena, and the Spartans kept running.

And running. And running.

Eventually, the Spartans ran away with a physical 66-47 final in a payback win from the 77-65 loss inflicted on them at the hands of Spain Park at Jaguar Arena on Jan. 8.

“It’s all about physicality,” Spain Park head coach Donnie Quinn said after the game. “When you’re allowed to be physical, and we’re not. We didn’t handle that well, we didn’t adjust to it well, so we got our tails handed to us.”

The game was played at a frenetic pace from the jump. Mountain Brook’s bread and butter is in its hellacious full-court press, and the Spartans were in it from the jump. Justin Brown hit a pair of early threes to pace the Jaguars, and Jamal Johnson added a triple as well to give the Spartans an early 11-7 lead in the first. Trendon Watford, one of the best freshman players in the country, and Jack Kline held serve for Mountain Brook, and the teams went into the second period knotted at 14-14, which saw both Austin Wiley and Watford pick up two quick fouls.

The Spartans outscored the Jaguars 52-33 the rest of the way.

After a quick three from Mountain Brook to open the scoring in the second, the very first Jaguar possession Johnson was double teamed in the backcourt and tripped over his own feet, falling and giving the ball back to Mountain Brook. Which summed up the second quarter well for the Jaguars.

Mountain Brook placed ample pressure on Brown and Johnson throughout the first half, and bodied up the six-foot-11-inch Wiley with a number of bodies throughout the first half to try and throw the big five-star recruit out of his rhythm, which worked for the most part.

Kline, the senior UAH commit and heart of this particular Spartan team, led a full-court onslaught that kept Spain Park on its heels the whole second quarter. As time expired in the half, Kline hit a deep three to put Mountain Brook up 10, 36-26, and did not look back the rest of the way, eventually winning 66-47.

“We made some serious changes in terms of role defining after we lost to them the first time,” Mountain Brook head coach Bucky McMillan said after the game. “A lot of that had to do with the fact that we hadn’t had them all together for long before. When we came into play the next game against Hewitt, I said this is game one of the season. Vestavia was game two, this was game three with our new roles. And you can see a drastic difference in how we’re playing.”

Both teams moved to 3-1 in 7A Area 6 play. The next two weeks will determine whether Spain Park or Mountain Brook host the area tournament.