Lady Patriots Birmingham boundPublished 2:06pm Friday, February 25, 2011
The Sparkman students in attendance of Friday’s regional finals at Wallace State-Hanceville chanted “We hate Bob Jones” as the clock expired, followed by the Bob Jones students chanting “Hey, hey, hey, goodbye.”
But as bitter and hard fought as the student sections were, the game was even more intense, as the Lady Patriots overcame a poor shooting effort to upend the cross-town rival Lady Senators for the fourth year in a row in the region finals, 27-19.
“That’s a rivalry game,” said Bob Jones head coach Tim Miller. “It was intense.”
The low-scoring affair did not start out that way, as the Patriots jumped on the Senators early, opening up an 11-4 lead.
“I really think our game plan worked pretty good,” Miller said. “ We wanted to slow the game down, and I think we did a good job of that.”
While the Patriots succeeded in slowing down the pace of the game, neither team could heat up their shooting.
The Senators shot just 20 percent in the first half, while the Patriots shot just 35 percent.
“Bob Jones just came out the first half and out toughed us,” said Sparkman head coach June Seals.
Only five total points were scored in the third quarter before the Senators pulled the game to within one score in the final quarter.
However, Sparkman center Alexis Jennings went down with an ACL injury late in the quarter, and the Senators’ out shooting never got going.
“They doubled down and left us with our outside shots,” said Seals. “We had our wide open shots, but we just couldn’t make them fall. We had opportunity after opportunity. It is what it is.”
Tierra Jones, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, leading the Patriots with eight points, followed by Joidon Jennings with seven.
Jasmine Jones, who transferred from Sparkman this year, endured constant boos during the game, but still finished with six points and 11 rebounds.
“I can’t even explain it. So many people have doubted us,” said Jones. “It’s amazing.”
For Sparkman, Sharin Rivers had a game-high nine points, followed by Dominique Henley with eight points.
“I wanted this game so much,” Rivers said as she broke down in tears. “I wanted it more than anything else.”
The Patriots will play Jeff Davis in the Final 4 at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex on Thursday, March 3 at noon.