When the dust settled Monday evening, after eight games Saturday at Arab and four Monday at Snead State in Boaz, four Knights basketball teams remained alive in the Marshall County Tournament.
The Arab varsity girls’ offensive struggles put them out of the tournament early, but with the other four teams advancing, Arab fans can’t complain too much, especially with one team – the ninth grade boys – already locked into Saturday’s final.
• JV BOYS
Arab 66, Brindlee Mtn. 14
The Knights opened the Marshall County Basketball Tournament on Saturday morning by pushing their season record to 23-1 with a crushing win over the Lions.
Kolby Conley led the Knights in scoring with 12 points in a game that saw every player on the team score.
“The guys came out and played well. They know they’ve got to keep up their game to complete the season,” said coach Brad Kitchens.
Ethan Thomas, J. B. Bowman and Andrew Byars had nine points each, Alex Alcala had six and Clayton Miller had five.
Kitchens knew it was a tough game for Brindlee Mountain.
“They played with great effort,” he said. “The score got lopsided but my hat’s off to them for how hard they played.”
David Costly led the Lions with five points. Gavin Daniel added four.
The Arab JV boys will play Albertville at 4:45 p.m. Thursday at Snead.
• JV GIRLS
Arab 37, Douglas 28
Arab was putting together a bit of a lead in the first half when the Eagles came back to tie the game at halftime at 18. But, the Lady Knights held the Eagles scoreless in the third quarter to go up by 11 and coasted to a first-round win Saturday.
“We started out extremely slow in the first half,” said coach Chase Weaver. “I pressured them to come out in the second half to prove they wanted to advance in the tournament and they did.”
Persistence paid off at times when shots didn’t want to fall, but rebounds gave the Knights second and third chances. Bryleigh Bodine had 13 points for Arab, Sydney Ferguson and Anna McFerrin had seven points each, and Laney Kelley had six.
The JV girls will play Albertville at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Snead State.
In other first-round games on Saturday, the Guntersville ninth grade boys defeated Boaz 46-44; the DAR JV girls defeated Brindlee Mountain 42-15; the Albertville JV girls defeated Asbury 36-18; the Albertville JV boys defeated DAR 56-19; the Guntersville JV boys defeated Boaz 44-21; and the Asbury JV boys defeated Douglas 52-33.
• 9TH GRADE BOYS
Arab 57, Albertville 36
On Monday at Snead, Arab picked up its 15th win of the year in convincing fashion, but didn’t actually put a stamp on it until the second half.
“We came out very flat; we weren’t focused at all,” said coach Jonathan Embry.
Arab had given Albertville its only two losses of the year in the regular season.
“They’re a good team and we had to come out of the break ready to play,” Embry said.
Spencer Strickland had 19 points for the Knights, John Ray Wilks 14 and Dakota NeSmith, who was held scoreless in the first half, had 11.
With the score tight, things “got a little chippy, a little heated” early on, but “we talked about making good decisions in the second half,” said Embry.
The conversation must have worked. Arab outscored the Aggies 20-5 in the third quarter. “Spencer and Dakota came out a little emotional and kind of forced their will on the game instead of letting easy shots come to them,” Embry said.
“Dakota came out with a few easy shots in the second half and had eight quick points for us to start the third.
“I thought we just let the game come to us and execute what we do. I was really proud of the guys for responding the way they did.”
Up next for the freshmen is the county championship game Saturday against DAR, which defeated Guntersville 53-33.
The Knights and Patriots have split in earlier games this season.
“We won by two and they won by two. They’re a good team and it should be a fun game,” said Embry.
Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Snead State.
• VARSITY GIRLS
Albertville 44, Arab 18
By now it’s a broken record, but the story is the same. The Lady Knights were eliminated from the tournament in another game where the shots didn’t fall, even layups. Arab scored only two points in the first quarter.
“A lot of it is mental at this point,” said coach Jessica Thompson. “They want to score just as bad as anyone and it’s put pressure on them.”
The girls followed the game plan fine, Thompson said.
“We got the ball where we wanted it and ran the sets fine. We played well defensively for the most part, but we’re still struggling to score and nothing is going to make you a good shooter but time in the gym on your own,” she said.
“For the rest of the year and during the offseason, we’ve got to do a better job of that.”
Only three players connected on a field goal for the Knights. Reagan Malone had eight points, Tristen White six and Elizabeth Brodhage had four.
DAR 55, Brindlee Mtn. 45
The Lady Lions got off to a 10-2 start and were tied with the Patriots 39-39 at the end of three quarters but couldn’t hold on.
Kyleigh Wilks made three 3-pointers in the first half and finished with nine points. Zoie Decker led in scoring with 13 points, followed by Chantzley Kirkland with 11 and Kailin Childress with seven.
• VARSITY BOYS
Arab 62, DAR 45
With Logan Parker out for the year now with a torn ACL, the Knights went into the county tournament missing a vital piece of their game. However, an injured Blake Kelley returned to the lineup and somehow ignored the effects of a broken hand to help lead his team to a dominant first-round win over the Patriots.
“Blake Kelley was the story of the game,” said coach Justin Jonus. “He was a surprise for me. He basically has a cast on his left hand and had about nine blocked shots, numerous rebounds and a monstrous one-handed dunk.
“For a kid to break his hand and have only one practice and come out there and play that well was something. I know it’s tough and it may not be that way every night but I hope it continues.”
Of course, there were other factors.
“We had six 3’s and shot it pretty well tonight and our guards did a great job rebounding. Everybody stepped up and we moved the ball around a lot better,” said Jonus.
James Ed Johnson led the Knights in scoring with 16 points, Trevor Miller had 15 and Colby King had 10.
“That’s a big turnaround from the last time we played them. It was a great team win,” Jonus said.
Darian Lusk was scheduled for knee surgery Tuesday but got in a few minutes as well.
The Knights on Thursday will face Albertville, a team that has defeated the Knights handily twice this season, 52-39 and 69-36. The game tips at 7:30 p.m.
“Our kids are definitely ready for the game and if we play like we’re supposed to it will be a good opportunity for us,” Jonus said.
Albertville 72, Brindlee Mountain. 27
Caleb Scott scored 16 points and Nick Knepper had seven for the Lions.
Remaining tournament schedule (based on games through Monday night):
• (1) Boaz JV girls (16-2) vs. DAR in the Marshall County Tournament, at Snead State Community College, Boaz, 3:30 p.m.
• Arab JV boys vs. Albertville in the Marshall County Tournament, at Snead State Community College, Boaz, 4;45 p.m.
• Albertville varsity girls vs. DAR in the Marshall County Tournament, at Snead State Community College, Boaz, 6 p.m.
• Arab varsity boys vs. Albertville in the Marshall County Tournament, at Snead State Community College, Boaz, 7:30 p.m.
• Arab JV girls vs. Albertville in the Marshall County Tournament, at Snead State Community College, Boaz, 3:30 p.m.
• Guntersville JV boys vs. Asbury in the Marshall County Tournament, at Snead State Community College, Boaz, 4:45 p.m.
• Boaz/Guntersville varsity girls winner vs. Douglas/Asbury winner, in the Marshall County Tournament, at Snead State Community College, Boaz, 6 p.m.
• Asbury/Boaz varsity boys winner vs. Guntersville/Douglas winner, in the Marshall County Tournament, at Snead State Community College, Boaz, 7:30 p.m.
• Marshall County Tournament, 9th grade boys final, DAR vs. Arab, at Snead State Community College, Boaz, 1 p.m.
• Marshall County Tournament, JV girls final, at Snead State Community College, Boaz, 2:30 p.m.
• Marshall County Tournament, JV boys final, at Snead State Community College, Boaz, 4 p.m.
• Marshall County Tournament, varsity girls final, at Snead State Community College, Boaz, 5:30 p.m.
• Marshall County Tournament, varsity boys final, at Snead State Community College, Boaz, 7 p.m.