By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
A dynamic shooting performance catapulted Guntersville over Etowah, 92-80, in a Class 5A sub-regional game on Tuesday (Feb. 14) in Attalla.
The Wildcats buried four first quarter 3-pointers and took advantage of a poor shooting performance from the Blue Devils as the visitors built a 19-11 lead after the first frame. Guntersville extended its lead in the second quarter and led 46-26 at the half.
In the first four minutes of the third quarter, Etowah applied full court pressure and forced several Guntersville turnovers. Andy Noles scored all 11 of his points during that four-minute stretch, and the Blue Devils went on a 17-4 run to cut the lead to 50-43.
After two Guntersville baskets, however, Etowah was assessed a technical foul immediately after committing a common foul, and Wildcats guard Izaak Parker hit four consecutive free throws to extend the lead to 58-43.
The Blue Devils cut the lead to 10 on several occasions in the fourth quarter but could never close the gap any further.
“We had some chances right there,” said Etowah head coach James Graves. “We cut it within six, made a silly foul, then a technical foul and then they made a three. So now it went from six to 13. Those things we can’t do. Hopefully we’ll learn from those things and come back next year better from it.”
Graves said his team took bad shots in the first half, which allowed the Wildcats to build an early lead.
“We just weren’t running our stuff and we were taking some bad shots and not attacking the basket,” he said. “We played like sophomores tonight. That’s what we played like, and that’s the honest to God truth.”
Jamin Graham led the Blue Devils with 16 points, while Noles, Emil Smith and Christopher Jones all scored 11.
Parker led all scorers with 19 points, including 14-of-16 from the free throw line. Chrishon Hampton scored 18 points for the Wildcats.
Etowah finished the season at 14-11, and Graves said he hopes his team can bounce back strongly next season and take the next step as a program.
“It’s always good to win an area championship, but our goal wasn’t just to win an area championship,” he said. “It was to have a chance to play in Jacksonville and compete in the Sweet 16 and that didn’t happen for us. But hopefully these guys will come back motivated and ready to get to work next year and hopefully we can get there next year.”