Montevallo starts season 2-1 behind Da’Shaunte Smith

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

VESTAVIA – Montevallo (2-1) played in the Sneaky Pete’s Thanksgiving tournament at Vestavia Hills High School during Thanksgiving week. The Bulldogs had a lot of high hopes coming into the season with players like First Team All-County guard Tavarus Hall and Second Team All-County Forward Da’Shaunte Smith returning for their senior seasons. To show the level of completion in the tournament, 4A Montevallo took on two 7A schools and one 6A school.

Game one

Smith was three assists shy of a triple double in the Bulldogs’ first game of the season as he led Montevallo to a 59-54 win over 6A Albertville High School. Smith led the way with 22 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in the game. Daqwan Bryant added 11 points and Treshawn Brown had eight points and eight rebounds on the night.

The game was tightly contested as Albertville jumped out to an early 10-6 first quarter lead, but Montevallo came right back and outscored Albertville 20-12 in the second. The rest of the game was close as the Aggies edged the Bulldogs 15-14 in quarter three and Montevallo edged Albertville 19-17 in the final quarter. It turned out the second quarter run was the difference in the game as Montevallo won their season opener 59-54.

Game two

The win in round one advanced the Bulldogs to take on 7A Jeff Davis in game two of the tournament. Montevallo went on to lose by a final of 53-46 in a back-and-forth tight game. The first quarter came to an end with each team posting seven points. Jeff Davis’ offense woke up in the second quarter more than doubling their first quarter points on the way to an 18-13 quarter as they took a 25-20 lead into the half.

In the third quarter, both offenses sputtered and the Bulldogs took advantage edging Jeff Davis 10-9 to trim the lead to four after three quarters of play. Montevallo kept it close and forced a lot of lead changes in the game, but Jeff Davis outscored them again in the fourth 19-16 to win 53-46. Smith led the Bulldogs again with 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Brown added seven points and seven rebounds. Tederion Aaron paced Jeff Davis with 10 points.

Game three

The loss to Jeff Davis forced Montevallo to the third place game where they took on tournament host Vestavia Hills. It was another close game with several lead changes but was a tale of two halves for both teams. Vestavia started out hot in the first half outscoring the Bulldogs 15-12 in the first and 16-11 in the second to take a commanding 31-23 lead. Going into the half it looked like it would be the Rebels’ game to lose.

The second half, however, was a much different story. Montevallo’s defense stepped up in the third quarter as they held Vestavia to seven points and turned their defensive stops into 15 points on the offensive end. Just like that, in one quarter of play, the Bulldogs had erased an eight-point deficit and tied the game at 38-38 heading into the fourth.

The lead exchanged hands a few times in the fourth quarter, but in the end Montevallo outscored the Rebels 23-19 in the quarter to preserve a come-from-behind 61-57 win over Vestavia to take home the third place prize. Yet again Smith led the Bulldogs with 32 points while also adding seven rebounds and five assists. Bryant also came up big with 16 points on four three pointers, and Brown added six points and led the team with nine rebounds. Paul Hargrove and Scott Morrison led Vestavia with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Smith averaged 26 points per game in the tournament and has helped Montevallo jump out to a 2-1 record.