By Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter
No. 6 seed Gaston High stunned No. 2 Sardis, 46-34, on Thursday (Jan. 16) in the varsity boys semifinals of the Etowah County high school basketball tournament at Gadsden State’s Beck Field House.
The Bulldogs (8-12) meet Class 4A, No. 5 Hokes Bluff in the finals on Friday.
The Lions, who suffered its third consecutive loss, shot only 31.4 percent from the field and committed 20 turnovers to Gaston’s eight.
Sardis (13-6) outrebounded the Bulldogs 32-15, including a 15-5 edge on the offensive glass, but it didn’t offset the poor shooting performance.
“Everything is based on our defense,” said Gaston head coach Buddy Wright. “We’ve matured offensively on being patient and taking the good shot. We’ve got a lot of guys who can score, but a lot of times at the beginning of the season, we were just taking the shot, instead of a shot within the offense and a good shot.
“Our ballhandling has gotten a whole lot better, and we haven’t had a whole lot of turnovers. And against good teams like Sardis, we can’t have turnovers. Our guys played hard, and we’re just blessed to have a chance to play for a county championship.”
Cody Turk’s 3-point basket with 5:57 left in the first quarter gave Sardis its only lead of the night at 6-5. Gaston answered with an 11-0 run to seize the momentum. Albert Douglas’ fast break layup gave the Dawgs a 16-6 lead with 1:38 remaining.
Chase Faulks’ old-fashioned three-point play ended a 5:05 scoring drought for the Lions, but Gaston’s Braxton Collins netted five points in the final 21.3 seconds, pushing the Dawgs’ advantage to 21-9 at the quarter break.
Gaston maintained a double-digit margin for most of the second period.
Faulks’ basket pulled the Lions within 26-21 with 1:22 remaining, but GHS led 28-21 at the half.
Sardis never came closer than five points in the third quarter, which ended with the Bulldogs in front at 36-31.
Gaston sealed the victory by outscoring the Lions 10-3 in the fourth period.
Will Scott’s fast break layup cut it to 36-33 with 6:28 remaining, but the Lions didn’t score again until Scott hit a free throw with 1:11 left.
Sardis committed four turnovers in the final quarter and Gaston added four steals, a combination that prevented the Lions from rallying.
Albert Douglas propelled the Bulldog offense in the fourth, as he scored nine of his game-high 17 points.
“Gaston made the right plays,” said Sardis head coach Tracy Cheek. “They did exactly what we expected them to do. They came out and pressured our guards with a jump trap, and we didn’t handle the pressure well. You can’t win with 20 turnovers and when you shoot 7-of-19 from (the field]) 4-of-16 from (3-point range) and 8-of-14 from the foul line. Those aren’t winning numbers.
“We’re in a little slump right now. We won seven in a row and were playing well before it, and we have to find a way to play our way out of it.”
Trevion Rooks and Javonte Pope each scored six points, while Collins and Josh Bogle each tossed in five for the Bulldogs.
Faulks’ 12 points led Sardis. He added seven rebounds.
Jesse Hubbard scored seven pints, followed by Turk with six.
Rains had nine rebounds, while Scott made three steals.