Photo: Etowah High’s Emil Smith (11) guards Mortimer Jordan’s Ronnie Wright during the Blue Devils’ 60-20 victory in the Class 5A Northeast Regional Tournament semifinals on Saturday, Feb. 17, at Jacksonville State. (Mike Goodson)
By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
The Etowah Blue Devils placed three players in double figures on their way to a 60-40 victory over Mortimer Jordan in the Class 5A Northeast Regional Tournament semifinals on Saturday, Feb. 17, at Jacksonville State.
This was the school’s first Northeast Regional Tournament win since head coach James Graves was a junior at Etowah in 1988. The victory set up a showdown for the Blue Devils against Talladega on Wednesday at 10:45 p.m. with a trip to the Final Four in Birmingham at stake.
The Blue Devils last regional appearance came in 2014.
Mortimer Jordan (19-13) lived by the three-point shot this season, but the long-range shooting rarely found its mark in making only 2-of-20 from the three-point line. By contrast, Etowah (25-5) made seven three-pointers as well having height advantage inside.
Etowah jumped out to a quick 11-3 lead before Mortimer Jordan settled down and cut the Blue Devil lead to 11-8 after the first eight minutes.
Etowah held a 25-20 lead at the half on the strength of Emil Smith’s 13 points.
“We defended the 3-point shot well and finally started making shots,” said Etowah head coach James Graves. “Our outside shooting opened it up for (6’6) Jamin (Graham) inside.”
Etowah opened up a 37-29 lead after three quarters and outscored Mortimer Jordan 23-11 in a wild fourth quarter. Graves cleared the Etowah bench with four minutes remaining and the game well in hand.
Taylor Berry led Etowah with 16 points, followed by Smith and Graham with 15 each. Berry was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line, while Graham shot 78 percent (7-for-9) from the field. Smith had three 3-point baskets.
Mortimer Jordan was led by Ronnie Wright’s game high 18 points and Justin Anderson with 11.
“This is a big win for Etowah High School basketball,” said Graves.