Spain Park downs rival Hoover, remains unbeaten

Published 11:59 am Monday, December 5, 2022

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

HOOVER – Despite a scary moment during a matchup with rival Hoover on Friday, Dec. 2, the Spain Park Jaguars didn’t fold and finished strong in the second half to remain unbeaten.

The Jags lost Jared Smith, one of their best young players, with a scary injury after he collided with the wall.

Spain Park, however, seemingly used that as fuel the rest of the way to drive them to a win for Smith.

The Jaguars, who trailed at the end of the first and second quarters, were able to use a 16-8 third quarter to flip momentum and take a 37-30 lead into the final quarter.

Then, they closed the game by making six of seven free throws down the stretch to hold off a strong push from the Bucs en route to a 54-50 victory.

With that strong finish, the Jaguars improved to 9-0 on the season.

A big reason for the success was thanks to leaders Zach Gray and Sam Wright both dropping 18 points in the win with strong finishes in the second half.

Offense, however, was tough for Spain Park to come by in the early going.

In the opening quarter, the Jags got five from Wright and two from Korbin Long, but were held without any other points.

Luckily, the defense started strong in a physical rivalry contest, as the Jaguars limited Hoover to 10 points.

That put them in an early deficit, trailing by three, but a more manageable deficit.

Both teams saw more success in the second quarter with Spain Park posting 14 points to bounce back from the slow start. Gray and Wright had four each, while Smith, Long and T.J. Lamar each had two points in the period.

But Hoover did enough to maintain a one-point lead at the break thanks to 12 points of its own to take a 22-21 advantage into the halftime break.

Spain Park’s defense, however, was off to a hot start, and it didn’t go anywhere in the third quarter.

Hoover only made two field goals in the third quarter and totaled eight points.

The Jags, with some halftime changes, capitalized on the other end, kickstarting a strong second half with 16 points.

Gray scored eight to help spark the strong run, while Wright chipped in four. With that, the Jags flipped the momentum in their favor and took a 37-30 lead into the final quarter.

The Bucs did save their best offensive quarter for last, scoring 20 points in a comeback attempt, but so did Spain Park. The Jaguars totaled 17 in the quarter, including the impressive mark from the free throw line, to hold on for the four-point victory.

In the second half alone, Gray totaled 14 of his 18 points, while Wright had nine in each half. The Jags also finished 11-13 from the free throw line in the second half, while they were 16-19 during the game.

Beyond Gray and Wright, Long finished with eight, while Lamar and Chase James added four each. Smith made two free throws in the win and was doing better after the game.