Spain Park takes back-and-forth battle with Chelsea

Published 12:13 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HOOVER – The saying goes that two rivals know each other better than anyone else, and that certainly held true as the Spain Park Jaguars battled the Chelsea Hornets on Tuesday, Jan. 9.

In the end, Spain Park prevailed in a 45-35 victory at home to improve to 2-0 in area play.

The two teams traded leads throughout the first quarter as they matched each other nearly move for move.

After the Jags answered a Hornets lead by tying up the game at 7-7, Jaxon Shuttlesworth made a layup to give Chelsea the lead for the final stretch of the first quarter.

While Spain Park hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to one ahead of the buzzer, the Hornets led 11-10 after the first eight minutes of play.

Chelsea built on that lead from there and went up by five just 1:30 into the second quarter.

The Jags gradually chipped away at that lead in a tightly-fought second quarter, first with a TJ Lamar layup with six minutes left in the half and hit a pair of three-pointers to take an 18-17 lead into halftime.

That lead would be short-lived as Chelsea retook a one-point lead in the opening moments of the third. However, that would be just the first of four lead changes in the first three minutes of the second half.

With the game tied at 25 with less than five minutes to go in the quarter, Lamar gave Spain Park the lead for good. Nick Richardson hit a three-pointer to increase the lead to six, which proved to be the advantage that the Jags would have going into the fourth.

The Hornets did not go down without a fight as Christian Whetstone made a three to cut the lead to five, and soon after, Spain Park led just 36-33 with 4:38 remaining going into a Chelsea timeout.

From there, though, the Jags restored their advantage thanks to baskets from Lamar, who scored six points in the fourth, and Chapman Blevins.

The Hornets tried to get their offense going in the final minutes but could not respond to Spain Park’s run as the Jags walked away with the 10-point win.

Lamar led the way with 15 points after coming up in clutch moments for Spain Park all game long. Korbin Long had 12 points and Richardson scored 10 to put three Jags into double-figures.

As for Chelsea, it had a pair of double-digit scorers as well despite the loss as Aiden Owens scored 13 points and Avery Futch had 11. In addition, Whetstone and Shuttlesworth had five points apiece.

Spain Park will look to go 3-0 in area play with a trip to Hewitt-Trussville on Friday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. As for the Hornets, they will play Oak Mountain on the same day at 7 p.m. in search of their first area win.