Hillcrest vs Bryant Round 4: Elite Eight
It's not every day that two in-city rivals square off in the elite eight for a chance to play in the final four, but that's exactly what we got with the Hillcrest Patriots and the Paul Bryant Stampede. This will be the fourth and final time this season that these two clubs will face off against one another. All three games have been won by the Stampede.
The first game took place at Hillcrest in early January, and the Stampede prevailed 42–37. Paul Bryant’s Adrian Wooley led the way with 22 points followed by JJ Crawford’s 10 points. Two weeks later, in Cottondale, the Stampede routed the Patriots 56-35. The Stampede prevailed in a hard-fought game 45-37 in the third contest, which was for the Area-6 title. Wooley and Crawford scored 15 points collectively, but junior Marchello Perkins scored 17.
Everything that happened in the previous matches is irrelevant on Wednesday for a ticket to the regional final.
Players and coaches at both Bryant and Hillcrest are quite talented. Osa Alohan, DJ Hamlett, and Shah Hall make up the Big 3 for Hillcrest. Marquis Nash, Crawford, and Wooley make up Bryant's Big 3. These have been the fun games of this classic rivalry this year.
Wooley has been dominant this season. An exceptional athlete who can get to the rim at will, make difficult shots, and shoot 3-pointers. One of the best guard tandems in the state has been him and Crawford together. They are the two team leaders, according to head coach Shon Peck-Love, and they don't need to have tremendous offensive nights to be effective in games. Rather, their presence has been crucial to much of their team's success.
The guard pairing of Hamlett and Alohan from Hillcrest has consistently ranked among the best in the state. After losing Austin Evans and RJ Boyd to graduation, Alohan transferring from Holt this past season has been precisely what he and this program needed. He and Hamlett have been able to score at all three levels of the court: 3-pointers, mid-range shots, and getting to the basket.
Alohan scored 23 points in the game against Chilton County in the Sweet 16, and Hamlett finished second with 11 points after failing to make a field goal in the opening period. This demonstrates just how explosive these two can be while playing on offense.
The matchups between the big men are crucial to this game. Senior Shah Hall of Hillcrest takes on Marquis Nash of Bryant. Hall, who is 6-foot-8 with a wingspan of over seven feet, has been outstanding during the regular season with his ability to rebound and block shots. He scores the majority of his points at the rim and the foul line.
Nash serves as the Bryant defense's anchor. Standing at 6-foot-7 with a wingspan of over seven feet, Nash has had a successful year, grabbing crucial rebounds and making Wooley and Crawford's jobs simple with his long presence. Nash has a tendency to get into foul trouble, which has been a problem.
The numbers show that Hall was just as dominant in the Sweet 16 matchup against Chilton County as he has been during his whole season. Hall did have the numbers, but he did not exude the same commanding presence that he has had all season. That had a lot to do with the fact that he played 36 minutes of the game and matched up against a big man who was 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, whereas Hall is only 190 pounds.
Both teams must be physically and mentally prepared for this game since they know what is at stake: win or go home. This is the type of game that will need Bills Harris Arena to stock up on popcorn. It doesn't get much better than Hillcrest vs. Bryant in Round 4 for a trip to the final four.