Photo: Hokes Bluff’s Jordan Presley (23) defends Sylvania’s Timothy Bullock during the Eagles’ 59-49 loss in the Class 3A subregional playoffs on Tuesday, Feb. 15. (Courtesy of Alex Chaney)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
In the end, not nearly enough shots fell through the net for the Hokes Bluff boys basketball team last Tuesday (Feb. 15).
The Eagles’ bid for the program’s first Northeast Regional Tournament appearance in eight years came up short with a 59-49 loss to Sylvania in the Class 3A subregional playoffs.
After Hokes Bluff went ahead by double digits early in the third quarter, the Rams put together a 16-6 run that tied the game at 43-43 heading into the final eight minutes.
That surge marked the beginning of the end for the hosts, as the Eagles scored only three times from the field during the fourth quarter. A nearly four-minute scoreless stretch by the hosts ended with Avron Nix’s put-back with 1:20 remaining and drew Hokes Bluff within five, but it turned out to be the Eagles’ last basket of the game. The visitors by then were in the double bonus at the foul line, and Hokes Bluff had to foul in order to regain possession. The Rams did a good job in maintaining possession down the stretch, during which a pair of free throws by Josh Scott and a basket by Tim Bullock helped secure the win.
Scott and Sawyer Hughes each scored 19 points for Sylvania, while Bullock added 10.
Jordan Presley led the Eagles with 17 points, but only two came in the second half. Head coach
Jason Presley took responsibility for his son’s lack of offense over the final 16 minutes.
“I think he got tired,” he said. “I’ve done a poor job of limiting his minutes all season. But it’s hard to do sometimes, like tonight when we were swapping buckets in the third quarter.”
Kyle Patterson added 11 points for Hokes Bluff, followed by Nix with six.
Jason Presley pointed to poor shot selection and turnovers as a major factor in the Eagles’ struggles in the second half.
“With a 10-point lead, I thought we needed to play more deliberate in the third quarter, and we didn’t do that. We turned the basketball over and gave [Sylvania] easy baskets. We took quick shots when we should have made them guard in the half court and create the shot that we wanted to take instead of the shot that they wanted us to take. That’s when the momentum was lost. They had us spread out because they shoot the ball so well, and we didn’t rotate very well to help and recover the way we needed to.”
Jordan Presley scorched the Rams for 10 points in the first period, including a pair of 3-point baskets, as Hokes Bluff raced out to a 15-7 lead. But five points from Scott late in the quarter helped draw the visitors within 19-13.
A 3-pointer by Drake Whisenant cut the deficit to 21-19 early in the second frame. The Eagles answered with an 11-3 run that made it 32-22 with 2:34 left in the first half. Hokes Bluff went in halftime ahead 33-25.
Nix’s basket at the six-minute mark of the third restored the double-digit lead at 37-27, but Sylvania soon grabbed the momentum and never relinquished it.
Jason Presley spoke highly of seniors Avron Nix, Harrison Millander and Kyle Patterson.
“Kyle and Avron transferred over in the ninth and 10th grade, and those two guys assimilated into our program and added so much leadership and character for us. I’ve coached Harrison since he was eight, and to say that I love him like a son would be a definite understatement. He has pouted everything in his heart into our basketball program, and he’ll have a friend for life in me.”