Bryant Comes Up Short in Semifinals
The Paul Bryant Stampede finished its season with a 54-52 loss to the Mountain Brook Spartans in the AHSAA State Semifinals. Jaykob Johnson led the Stampede with 15 points, followed by Adrian Wooley with 14, Marchello Perkins II with 11, and Marquis Nash with 10 points, six rebounds, and a blocked shot. The Spartans were led by John Colvin (16 points) and Julius Clark (14).
During three quarters, Mountain Brook had complete control of the game. Bryant did not play the game with a lot of enthusiasm. There were some players who appeared unprepared for the moment, unsure of what they were doing, and a few who were shaken. It was not a recipe for success in a playoff game.
Johnson was not one of those people who appeared ill-prepared. For a while, he was the majority of the Stampede's offense. Wooley rediscovered his game when the defense was forcing turnovers and got out in transition to score fast-break points. In the first half, Johnson had nine points and Wooley had five.
Mountain Brook, on the other hand, exuded excitement, as did the crowd that packed Legacy Arena, which was decked out in neon green. In the first quarter, the Spartans scored 17 points. Getting into the paint and finishing at the rim, as well as making deep shots, contributed significantly to their success.
Even though the Stampede was not shooting well (27% from the field), its defense was the reason why the game did not get out of hand. Bryant limited Mountain Brook to 39% shooting from the field, four steals led to eight fast-break points, and four 3-pointers kept the game close as it should have been. The second quarter's score was only 6-5.
The third quarter saw significantly more scoring. Mountain Brook outscored Bryant 16-13. The Stampede's offense was beginning to resemble itself. Wooley was attacking the basket, Perkins was hitting 3-pointers, and the defense was able to generate stops, but it had too many untimely turnovers to really turn the game around. After a couple of successful shots by Colvin, the Spartans were able to expand their lead. Momentum began to shift slightly, but not enough to put Mountain Brook in trouble.
Things started to become properly interesting in the fourth quarter after Colvin hit his fourth 3-pointer of the contest, increasing the Spartan lead to 12 points. With six minutes left in the game, Perkins came down and hit a three of his own, sparking a 13-7 run by the Stampede. Johnson scored another three with 48 seconds left to reduce the lead to three.
With 36 seconds left in the game, Mountain Brook had a three-point lead after a few successful free throws. Bryant had an opportunity to tie the game, but Perkins' shot was off-target. With 10 seconds left, the Spartans attempted to inbound the ball but lost possession of it. During an inbound play, they fouled Wooley immediately to prevent them from having a chance to tie the game while Bryant was in the bonus. Wooley made the first but missed the second, and Eric Grant snatched the offensive rebound. It was a two-point game when Wooley mishandled the ball, recovered it with three seconds left, and Colvin blocked his shot to give Mountain Brook the victory.
“I really wanted to fake up and go to the corner,” Wooley said. “But when the ball went back to halfcourt, I had to make a play. In my mind, I wanted to shoot the shot and win the game.”
"I am really proud of these guys. They had an up and down season," Bryant head coach Shon Peck-Love said. “No one really thought we would make it this far, but I told these guys I believed in them. We put together a schedule because we believed in them. It was for this reason that we played Pinson Valley, Mountain Brook, and Cullman."