Spain Park remains undefeated with win against Mountain Brook

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

HOOVER – In a game that couldn’t finish in regulation or a first overtime, the Spain Park Jaguars found a way in double overtime to take down state power Mountain Brook on Tuesday, Nov. 17, thanks to sharp free throw shooting late and clutch shots throughout the night.

The Jags, who trailed early in the second overtime and kept having to battle back, finally got the big play they needed when they got a defensive stop with 51 seconds to play following two made free throws from Colin Turner.

Following that stop, the Jags drew up a perfect play that saw one player drive toward the free throw line before passing to a cutting Braden Diclemente, who the Spartans seemingly forgot about. Diclemente drove straight to the basket for an easy layup that put Spain Park on top by three points at 64-61.

That was then followed by another big defensive stop in the clutch with a block on the other end, as the Jags came back down and added two more points from Diclemente on two made free throws to make it 66-61.

After Blake Floyd made one more in the final 10 seconds, the Jags had pulled off a hard-fought 67-63 double-overtime victory.

Once the final buzzer sounded, the emotions overcame the Spain Park players, who all ran and found a teammate to celebrate the win with.

The win marked the first Jan. 17, 2017 for the Jaguars, while the Spartans have won the Class 7A State Championship five times in the last eight years, including three in a row before losing last year in the title game.

The Jags also remained unbeaten on the season, improving to 3-0.

Spain Park couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game after Floyd knocked down a quick 3-pointer, Cam Crawford had four straight points and then Josh Harrington had five straight points.

That was all part of a 12-2 run by the Jaguars out of the gate.

But Mountain Brook held steady as the Spartans normally do. They responded with a 9-4 run to end the quarter, which trimmed Spain Park’s lead to four points at 15-11.

And early in the second quarter, Mountain Brook erased the deficit completely.

The Spartans eventually hit back-to-back 3-pointers during a stretch where Spain Park missed two free throws. The Spartans also started getting offensive rebounds which became a theme throughout the game.

All of that led to Mountain brook going on a 10-1 run to start the second quarter.

But the momentum shifted back in Spain Park’s favor thanks to a couple of big plays from Jax Hovanec and a 3-pointer from Harrington eventually put Spain Park back in front 26-23.

The Jags extended it to a four-point lead at 28-24, but Mountain Brook hit a 3-pointer right as the buzzer sounded to make it a one-point game at the half.

The momentum swings continued in the second half with the two teams trading runs.

Early, the Jags took a 30-27 lead off a Turner layup, but the Spartans bounced back with a 6-0 run after making a basket and getting a steal on the ensuing inbounds, which led to four consecutive points.

That put Mountain Brook back in front 33-30 midway trhough the third quarter.

From there, the game was tied at 33-33 and 35-35, but Mountain Brook went on a 5-1 run to end the quarter, which put the Spartans in front 40-36 going to the fourth quarter of play.

Early in the frame, Spain Park got a big 3-pointer from Crawford after the Spartans failed to switch a screen. That brought the Jags within one, which was a deficit that held true for a while until J.R. Lambert hit a 3-pointer to give Spain Park a 48-46 lead.

The Spartans, however, found one more basket shortly after to tie the game at 48-48. The Jaguars got the final shot attempt from Zach Gray, but the shot hit the front of the rim and missed as time expired.

In the first overtime, Spain Park actually grabbed the lead in the early going, but Mountain Brook followed a Turner offensive put back with a layup of its own to tie the game at 55-55 through the first overtime.

That led to the second overtime where the lead changed hands five times before Turner made his two free throws to give the Jags the lead for good.

Spain Park was led by 12 points from Harrington, while Turner had 10 points. Lambert and Crawford both finished with 10, while 10 total players scored in the game for the Jags.