Photo: Gadsden City’s Mykel Woods (22) blocks the shot attempt of Paul Bryant’s Seth Williams during the Stampede’s 58-44 victory in boys basketball on Tuesday (Jan. 30) at GCHS. (Gary Wells)
By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Class 6A No. 6 Paul Bryant spoiled Gadsden City’s senior night on Tuesday (Jan. 30), as a late 12-0 run propelled the Stampede to a 58-44 victory over the Titans in Gadsden.
The Titans trailed throughout most of the game, and the Stampede led 39-25 late in the third quarter. But Gadsden City made a ferocious comeback to cut the deficit to 44-40 behind a quick burst of points from senior guard Jaylen Cole.
The Stampede’s defensive pressure forced several Gadsden City turnovers, however, and they quickly pushed the lead back out to double digits in the blink of an eye. The lead swelled to 10 with three minutes remaining in the game, and the Titans could never sustain a run and close the gap.
Gadsden City head coach Reginald Huff said while his team overcame a lot to get back into the game, the free throw discrepancy in the first half really hurt his team. Paul Bryant shot 12 first half free throws and made eight, while Gadsden City was 1-for-3 from the line.
“I can’t talk about the fourth quarter without talking about the first half,” Huff said. “The tone was set in the first half. We make eight field goals and they make six, but they made eight free throws and we go to the line twice. It’s frustrating because we’re going to the basket and we know they’re going to play great defense. They are very long, but they do foul.”
Paul Bryant was 20-for-30 from the foul line for the game, while Gadsden City was 7-for-11. Huff said it was difficult for his team to get into a rhythm offensively because the Stampede’s length bothered them and he didn’t feel like his team received the same calls from the officials.
Huff said many of the issues his group faced were self-inflicted and that the Titans made too many mistakes to knock off a team as talented as the Stampede, who won the Class 6A state championship a season ago.
“It’s about us,” Huff said. “We had some crucial turnovers. We gave up some offensive rebounds because we didn’t fundamentally block people out and go get the ball. That’s a really good team. They’re the defending 6A state champions with everybody back. We’re proud of where we are right now. Fortunately, we don’t have to see anybody that big down the road. “
Gadsden City trailed 11-9 after the first quarter and 23-18 at halftime. Bryant extended its lead to 14 in the third quarter before the Titans stormed back into the game.
Cole and Kam Burnett led the Titans on senior night with seven points apiece. Jared Sherfield led Bryant with 14 points and Seth Williams scored nine points.
The Titans have a week to prepare for the area tournament before the travel to take on Hewitt-Trussville on Thursday, Feb. 8. The two teams split a pair of games in the regular season, but the Titans won the most recent meeting 60-42. Gadsden City needs a win to advance into the sub-regionals, and Huff said his team needs to take care of the ball and rebound better heading into the postseason.
“Possessions are crucial,” he said. “Every possession is a crucial possession, and we’ve got to handle the ball like that. We’ve got to rebound the ball better on the defensive end so we don’t give up second or third chance shots. Teams are shooting 20 percent from the field on us on first chance shots. It’s the second, third and fourth chance shots where we’re getting beat.”