By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
Hokes Bluff High boys head basketball coach Greg Watkins knew his team was up against a worthy opponent in the championship game of the Etowah County Tournament on Friday (Jan. 17) at Gadsden State.
Nevertheless, the Class 4A No. 5 Eagles (19-5) held off a game Gaston squad, 62-49, to win the title.
“Gaston came in with a good game plan and we felt like we did what we had to take the win,” he said. “Give our guys credit; they did exactly what they have been doing all season.”
Tournament MVP Isaac Haas fired up the crowd and his teammates with a pair of resounding dunks for the Eagles’ first four points of the evening. He finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
The Bulldogs’ Jason Bogle and Braxton Collins at times tried to deny the ball to Haas, but the 7-2 senior center was able to break loose almost at will in the second half, scoring 22 of his game-high 30 points in the final 16 minutes.
The first quarter ended with Hokes Bluff leading 13-11. The second quarter saw the Eagles score nine of their 13 points from the free throw line on the way to a 26-21 halftime lead.
The Gaston defense forced several Hokes Bluff turnovers at the start the third quarter, and the Bulldogs went on a 10-0 run to tie the game at 34-34 with 3:22 to go in the period.
Gaston (8-13) scored the final five points of the period and held a 42-37 lead after three quarters.
Haas then took control of the boards and the game, however, canning 13 of his points on the night during the fourth frame.
Hokes Bluff took a 48-47 with 3:29 remaining and never looked back. The Eagles outscored the Bulldogs 14-2 down the stretch to claim the win and the championship.
Kaden Moore added 17 points for the Eagles. Albert Douglas and Shai Ogles each scored seven points for Gaston.
Joining Haas on the all-tournament team were Kaden Moore and Brack Shields from Hokes Bluff; Collins, Albert Douglas and Shai Ogles from Gaston; Drew Mullinax and Hunter Bellew from Southside; Jesse Hubbard and Chase Faulks from Sardis; Dillon Tidmore from Glencoe; and Levi Weems from West End.