Jacksonville (13-12, 3-3) seeded No. 2 in the tournament behind Hokes Bluff, will now play Alexandria, the No. 3 seed, for the third time this season. The Eagles beat the Valley Cubs in their first two meetings. The game will be played at Hokes Bluff on Friday at 7:30 PM.
The winner of the Jacksonville-Alexandria game will go on to face the winner of the Hokes Bluff- Cherokee County matchup on Monday.
Jacksonville Head Coach Anthony Kingston did not see the area quite finishing up the way it did. “I thought we would win the area,” said Kingston, “but after playing Hokes Bluff I knew they had a good team.
“For us to get the second seed means a lot but we face a tough Alexandria team. It will be a battle for 32 minutes. They don’t want to lose to us three times. We have to execute for 32 minutes.”
Should Jacksonville get past the first round, which they must do or their season will be over, the Eagles would more than likely face 7-2 Isaac Haas and a Hokes Bluff team that has already beat them twice.
Kingston already has a game plan for Hokes Bluff, one they implemented when the two teams faced off at Jacksonville. “We will throw several different bodies at Isaac and limit the touches and opportunities of the other players,” said Kingston.
When the two teams met last, several Jacksonville players were called on to play in the post position in an attempt to guard Haas.
In the last games of the regular season last week, Jacksonville lost to Saks 56-51 and Fort Payne 69-43 but managed to hold off White Plains for a 66-62 win.
Against Saks, the two teams were tied 27-27 at the half.
In the third quarter Saks scored 14 points as D’Aundre Green scored eight points and the Wildcat defense held the Eagles to just four points.
In the fourth quarter Des Curry, who had 18 points for the Eagles, scored on two quick baskets and then pulled up and hit a 3-pointer.
A flurry of exchanges took place with Green hitting for Saks, Curry for the Eagles and then Sid Thurmond connected on two consecutive 3-pointers and Curry hit on a 3-pointer and suddenly the Saks lead was down to just two points with 1:10 left in the game.
The Eagles couldn’t get any closer and the Wildcats came away with a 56-51 win.
Thurmond had a game high 19 points, Jackson Bell had 9, Andrew Clingan 3, and Lavontae LaCount 2 points in the loss.
Jacksonville avenged an earlier loss to White Plains with a 66-62 win.
Down 20-14 the Wildcats came back to tie up the game 26-26 at the half.
Dakota Doss gave the Eagles a seven point in the third quarter, their largest of the game, and the lead was increased on a basket by Elijah Cunningham from the top of the key and then a 3-pointer by Thurmond. Another basket by Cunningham and the Eagles found themselves up 44-35 and ended the quarter with a 47-36 lead.
The Wildcats went on an eight-point run to start the fourth quarter on 3-point baskets by Jonathon Bradshaw and Jacob Gaines and two foul shots by Jaylen Hill.
Scoring continued back and forth. A 3-point basket by Hill got the Wildcats to within three at 53-50 with 4:30 left in the game.
Two foul shots by Wildcat Dylan Randall tied the game at 55-all and after a basket by the Eagles Lavontae LaCount for a 57-55 Jacksonville lead, the Wildcats took their first lead of the second half on a 3-point basket by Randall.
Jacksonville’s Andrew Clingan went up strong under the basket for two points and the Eagles had a 59-58 lead and led the rest of the way for the win.
For Jacksonville, Curry had 23 points, Bell 11, Doss, LaCount, Thurmond and Clingan all had 7 points with Clingan also pulling down 11 rebounds, and Cunningham had 4 points.
For White Plains, Jaylen Hill ended with 26 points and 11 rebounds, Randall 16 and Nathan Gilbert 10 points and 9 rebounds.
At Fort Payne the next night, the Eagles were outplayed by a quick Fort Payne team that caused many Eagle turnovers. Fort Payne also was on fire from the outside hitting 11 3-pointers. Luke Jennings hit 7-of-13 from 3-point land for Fort Payne for 26 points while Daquon Adams had 21.
Fort Payne took the 69-43 victory.
Jacksonville had trouble getting in their groove. Des Curry, the top free throw shooter in the county had trouble hitting at the line, and 3-pointers for the Eagles would go in and out of the basket.
In a foul-ridden game, the Eagles had trouble keeping starters in the game.
Curry finished with 12 points, Thurmond and LaCount 8, Doss and Bell 6, Cunningham 2, and Jared Tippets, 1.