By Chris McCarthy/Editor
For the first time in school history, the Coosa Christian boys basketball team will require clean game jerseys in mid-February.
The Conquerors (21-4) led from opening tip until the final buzzer in a 58-51 victory over Spring Garden in the Class 1A subregionals on Tuesday (Feb. 14) in Gadsden.
Coosa will play Decatur Heritage in the Northeast Regional Tournament semifinals on Friday (Feb. 17) at 7:30 at Jacksonville State.
“I felt that put our uniforms up way too early last year,” said Coosa Christian head coach Richard Hollingsworth. “Spring Garden was the team that put us out in the area tournament last year, so this makes it even more special. Tonight was a total team effort, and it’s been that way all year. Tonight wasn’t going to define us, but it sure did help us.”
The Conquerors maintained a double-digit lead from midway through the second quarter until halfway through the fourth, when the Panthers (16-10) rallied from 15-point deficit to draw within 48-40.
Coosa kept the visitors at bay down the stretch, however, going 6-for-8 at the foul line over the final two minutes. Spring Garden’s Riley Austin knocked down three 3-point baskets in the final 32 seconds, but the game was essentially out of reach by then.
Alex Holman paced the Conquerors with 16 points, followed by Caden Davidson with 14 and Evan Delp with 12. Caleb Garrett and Jace Mills each added six points.
Leading 7-4 after one quarter, Coosa used its pressure defense to create several turnovers, which the hosts turned into a 15-6 run that was capped by a Holman 3-pointer at the five-minute mark of the second period. The Conquerors entered halftime ahead 27-17.
“This is the type of game that we knew we were going to be in,” said Hollingsworth. “Our halfcourt defense really stepped up and shut down their shooters. We went zone one time and they scored on a lay-up, so our man-to-man was really effective. Our guys accepted their responsibilities and we did what we needed to do.”
The Coosa defense continued to frustrate the Panthers in the second half. After Dylan Rogers’ basket at 6:13 of the third narrowed the gap to 29-19, Spring Garden did not score again from the field until two minutes remained the quarter. At the other end of the court, Davidson broke free for seven straight points that pushed the Conqueror advantage to 42-28 after 24 minutes.
“If Caden can take one defender away, that makes everyone else a better player,” said Hollingsworth. “Give him credit, because it’s hard not to want to do more than you have to when you’re being shut down.”
Austin finished with 21 points, followed by Joe Rogers with 10 and Ben Ivey with nine.
“We were facing a team that has six seniors,” said Spring Garden head coach Ricky Austin. “They were very hungry and they wanted it. That’s why they’re heading to Jax State and we’re not.”
The Coosa girls, who defeated Jacksonville Christian in the girls subregional playoffs on Monday (Feb. 13), also qualified for the regional tournament for the first time. The Lady Conquerors will face Skyline on Friday (Feb. 17) at 6 p.m.
“It’s unbelievable that we’re taking two teams to Jacksonville,” said Hollingsworth. “The excitement around the school and the phone calls that I’m getting and all the articles in the paper, it’s really great for the whole community.”