By Chris McCarthy/Editor
Gadsden City boys head basketball coach Reginald Huff let it be known on Monday (Feb. 10) that the Class 6A, Area 9 Tournament championship was merely one step toward the Titans’ ultimate goal for the 2013-14 season.
“These guys are on a mission, and they don’t want to stop right here. Our goal is to win it all. We’ve got a lot of redeeming to do for our program for the way we ended up last year (GCHS lost in the area tournament semifinals).”
It was the seventh time in eight years that GCHS won its area tournament.
The No. 8 Titans (20-5) host 10th ranked Grissom in the subregional round on Friday (Feb. 14).
Gadsden City led wire to wire, but the Cougars (22-9) put together a couple of runs that kept them within striking distance. Clay pulled within nine points midway through the third quarter before the hosts closed out the period with a 12-5 run that restored their double-digit lead at 48-32.
Later in the game, an 11-2 stretch trimmed the GCHS advantage to nine points with 3:25 on the clock.
The Titans by then were in the double bonus free throw situation, however, and Gadsden City went 13-for-15 at the foul line over the final 2:44 to seal the win.
Gadsden City shot 77 percent (30-for-39) for the game and 85 percent (23-for-27) in the second half. Tevin Wise was a perfect 10-for-10 at the charity stripe.
“Our free throwing shooting tonight was incredible,” said Huff. “In our first two games against Clay-Chalkville, we made 20 out of 43 (46 percent), so that a huge improvement for us.
Four Titans scored in double figures, led by tournament MVP Josh Juddine with 19, Wise with 18, Chris Turk with 12 and Chris Dudley with 11.
Shaad Garret and Turk grabbed 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively, while Wise dished out seven assists.
Hasan Abdullah led the Cougars with 21 points, while Kenneth Cotton added 14.
Gadsden City got off to a quick start due in large part to the hot hand of Juddine, who canned four straight 3-point baskets to help stake the hosts to a 15-0 lead. Juddine scored 14 of his points in the initial period.
“We know what Josh is capable of doing,” said Huff. “He’s a team player and he’s little bit too unselfish at times. He’s a lights-out shooter, and there’s no limit to his range. But we have four or five guys who can score 20 [points] on any given night.”
Heading into the second quarter with a 21-8 lead, the Cougars outscored GCHS 11 to 9 in the second frame. Garrett’s off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer sent the Titans into the locker room ahead 30-19.
Wise’s 6-for-6 performance at the free throw line helped Gadsden City take a 48-32 advantage after third quarters, and Turk scored nine of his points in the final period.
“Offensively, Chris is the most dependable post player that we’ve ever had in this program,” said Huff. “He’s not flashy, but he’s a blue-collar guy that always works hard. He’s undersized for his position, but he dominates.”
Dudley, Turk and Wise joined Juddine on the all-tournament team.
“Considering the players that we lost (Rakim Lubin, Jeff Garrett and Trey Kalina), we accomplished something this year that a lot of people think we wouldn’t accomplish,” said Huff. “No matter what some people have said, our kids just believe in themselves and believe in their coaches and go out and execute. This is the most coachable group I think we’ve ever had.”