Bucs ship sinks: Spain Park upsets No. 2 Hoover

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HOOVER – Spain Park has had an up and down season that was highlighted by back-to-back upsets of No. 3 Huffman and No. 1 Mountain Brook. On Friday night, Feb. 3, the Jags had another opportunity to pull an unfathomable third upset of a top 5 team as they hosted No. 2 team in the state and crosstown rival Hoover.

After Hoover took its first lead of the game at 60-58 with 2:19 to play in the final period, it looked like things had slipped away from the Jags, but thanks to a 9-3 run to end the final two minutes of action Spain Park was able to hang on and pick up that third win over a top 5 team by taking down the Buccaneers 67-63.

“We challenged our guys during that last timeout,” Spain Park head coach Donnie Quinn said of what he told his guys late in the game. “Reputation is everybody thinks Spain Park is soft and I told them that right now they’re proving that we are so either we are going to fight for this or cave in.”

The Jags started the game off with the same intensity as the crowd on a 10-0 run. They looked extremely energized, which helped the home crowd’s excitement grow even more.

Spain Park used several fast break opportunities in the first half and got to the rim with ease. All of their 22 points in the first 7:58 had come inside the paint before Jamal Johnson drained a deep 3-pointer with two seconds left to extend the Jags lead to 25-9 after one.

“How we got up by 20 is the question,” Quinn said of the first quarter performance. “This atmosphere was great tonight, what a great venue for basketball. That shows that these are two quality schools with passionate kids and it rubbed off on our guys.” 

Hoover started the second quarter on a 5-1 run and definitely had found a rhythm as they were frustrating the Jags defensively for the first time all night. The Bucs eventually got within 10 at 35-25 before Johnson hit a layup basically from the floor while falling over and another deep 3-pointer to extend the lead to 40-27. Johnson had 16 in the half to help the Jags take a 40-29 lead at the break.

Spain Park started the third on an insane alley-oop by Johnson, that looked like something straight out of Deandre Jordan’s book, and a fast break layup by Xavier Blanchard to pick up right where they left off in the first half. Nothing up to that point the game kept them from getting to the basket.

The Jags had built up a comfortable 44-30 lead, but Hoover was about to right the ship. The Bucs went on a 9-0 run right after to get pull within five points of Spain Park’s lead. Both teams traded runs the rest of the quarter, with Hoover getting as close as four points before the Jaguars extended the lead to 52-46 heading to the final quarter.

Hoover made things tense in the final period after starting the quarter on a 6-2 run to get within two points. The Jags were able to maintain a 2-3 point lead for the first four minutes of the quarter and were up 58-55 with 3:48 left.

This was when things got really interesting as Hoover’s Jamari Blackmon a 3-pointer on the Bucs next possession to tie the game for the first time since it was 0-0. On the ensuing Hoover possession, they took their first lead of the game at 60-58 with 2:19 on the clock.

Spain Park answered with a Blanchard layup to tie the game back up at 60-60. Hoover hit one free throw to retake the lead, but Blanchard came right back with another layup to give the Jags a 62-61 lead, a lead they wouldn’t let go the rest of the way after nailing free throws down the stretch to win 67-63.

“Part of me expects us to beat these teams, but part of me knows they are having to dig down and do extra things to win thise big games,” Quinn said.

Johnson led Spain Park with a game-high 29 points in the game, but got plenty of help from Boswell and Blanchard who added 15 and 13 points, respectively. Hoover was led by Blackmon with 21 points and also saw Ahmon Ellington and Marion Humphrey score in double figures with 14 and 13 respectively.