Spain Park claims area championship with strong final quarter

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor 

HOOVER – After a perfect regular season in area play and a win in the first round of the area tournament, the Spain Park Jaguars looked to finish area play a perfect 8-0 when they took to their home floor against Huffman in the Class 7A Area 6 championship game on Friday, Feb. 9.

Despite shooting woes for the first three quarters of the game, Spain Park was able to outscore Huffman 16-8 in the final quarter to pick up a 44-41 win and claim the area title.

Trailing for much of the game and 33-28 in the final period, Sarah Ashlee Barker and Claire Holt hit three 3-pointers in a span of two minutes to give the Jags a 39-37 lead and it was a lead they held on for good after hitting free throws down the stretch.

Huffman came out of the gates with a clear vengeance after losing both regular season matchups.

The Vikings used that fuel to spark a quick 8-0 run in the first 3:08 of the game.

Ahrielle Parks finally got the Jags on the board with 4:41 left in the opening period by knocking down two free throws. That was the start of what ended up being a 10-2 run over the next two minutes of the quarter to tie the game at 10-10.

Huffman, however, answered back quickly with a 4-0 run of its own to end the quarter, which gave them the early 14-10 advantage at the end of the first.

The Viking continued to play aggressive and energized early in the second quarter and eventually took a 19-12 lead.

Yet again, the Jags were there to answer the call as they put together a 6-0 run of their own thanks to a Barrett Herring hook shot, two Holt free throws and a blocked shot by Herring that led to an easy layup for Barker.

But every time the Jags made a run in the first half, Huffman was there to answer with a run of their own. To end the half, the Vikings converted an and-1 opportunity and hit a 3-pointer to cap off an 8-2 run and take a 27-20 halftime lead.

Coming out of the half, the shooting woes didn’t get any better for Spain Park, but the defense stepped up to help the Jags cut into the deficit.

While Spain Park struggled offensively in the quarter, the Jaguars’ eight points were three more than Huffman’s five to cut the Vikings’ lead to four at 28-32 heading to the final quarter.

That’s when the Jags’ offense finally started clicking, despite the loss of one of their most offensive playmakers in Parks, who fouled out with 4:05 left in the game.

Through the first three quarters, Spain Park had scored 10 in the first, 10 in the second and eight in the third, before going off for 16 in the final period to pull off the win.

Huffman had several chances down the stretch after Spain Park took the lead, but they just couldn’t capitalize as the Jags held on to claim the title with the 44-41 win.

Holt led Spain Park with 15 points in the win. Amazingly all but five of those came at the free throw line and it could have been more had she not missed three free throws as well.

Barker added a second double-figure scorer with 12 points thanks to two clutch 3-pointers in the final quarter.

Spain Park is now 27-6 overall this season and will play Hewitt-Trussville or Grissom in the first round of the Northeast Regional at Jacksonville State University on Thursday, Feb. 15.