Titans triumph over Huntsville in OT, win area title

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By Chris McCarthy/Editor

For the eight times in the nine-year history of the school, the Gadsden City High boys basketball team is Jacksonville-bound.

The Titans outscored Huntsville 16 to 5 in overtime to post a 90-78 victory in the Class 7A, Area 4 Tournament championship game on Saturday (Feb. 7) at GCHS. Gadsden City (23-5) will face Vestavia Hills at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Northeast Regional Tournament semifinals at Jacksonville State. Class 7A has no subregional round. 

“Every time we played Huntsville this year was tough, but our guys had the resilience and did not give up tonight,” said GCHS head coach Reginald Huff. 

The hosts most likely would have been accepting the area runner-up trophy if not for the clutch shooting of senior guard Josh Juddine, whose off-balance three-point basket with 46 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 73-73.

Juddine, who finished with four treys and 24 points, broke the GCHS boys single season-season record of made three-point baskets. His total of 54 broke the previous mark of 49 set by Derrick Rudolph.

“Big-time players make big-time shots, and that’s what Josh does,” said Huff. “He was in a zone tonight and we needed him to be there. He wanted it and he made it happen. When were down in a game, we’re never out, because we have such a weapon in Josh. He has a lot of faith in his shot, and it paid off tonight.” 

The extra session was all Gadsden City. The Titans opened overtime with an 10-2 run, and when Jordan Counts’ three-pointer with just under a minute left drew the Panthers (8-21) within 83-78, Chris Dudley and Kalin Johnson each went 4-for-4 at the free throw line to secure the win. 

“I think our endurance and stamina took over [in overtime],” said Huff. “Plus, we’ve made our foul shots down the stretch this year when we needed to, and Chris and Kalin are ones we can really count on to make them.” 

Dudley, who was named tournament MVP, finished with 27 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Johnson sank four 3-pointers on the way to 23 points. 

Jacob Hyde had six points, eight rebounds and seven assists, while Denzel Mooney added eight boards.

Brent Binford paced Huntsville with 24 points, followed by Derrell Patton, Blake Sadler and Chance Fisher with 11 each.

With Huntsville leading 37-33 at the start of the second half, the Titans went to the perimeter game to close the gap. Juddine sank three 3-pointers and Johnson connected on two bombs to help GCHS take a 53-48 lead at the 3:35 mark of the third quarter. 

But the visitors kept pace, and Binford’s buzzer-beating jump shot provided the Panthers with a 58-57 advantage after 24 minutes.

The lead changed hands five times during the fourth period, with Huntsville taking a 73-70 lead with 1:21 to go on a pair of foul shots by Counts. 

Neither team converted on the next few possessions until Juddine’s last-minute long-range shot hit nothing but net.

The Panthers led 21-17 after one quarter, and 10 points from Dudley in the second frame helped Gadsden City remain within four points at intermission. 

“Our guys have worked hard and earned this after coming in at 6:30 in the morning and lifting weights,” said Huff. “This was probably the toughest area title that we’ve won, but it definitely was the finest.” 

Johnson, Hyde and Juddine joined Dudley on the All-Tournament team. 

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