PEARSON -- Saturday was a bad day for the local Class A teams.
Echols County's boys lost 79-72 to Taylor County, Clinch County's boys fell 69-65 to Central Talbotton and Echols County's girls lost 57-50 to Calhoun County in the first round of the Class A state tournament.
All three teams staged fourth quarter rallies to trim double-digit deficits down to four points, but ultimately, each fell short.
Taylor County boys 79, Echols County 72
Echols County gave Taylor County a run for its money most of the game. But a 15-2 third-quarter run by Taylor gave the Vikings enough to hold off the Wildcats.
Taylor's duo of Brandon Little and Shasta Scott proved to be deadly, combining for 46 of Taylor's 79 points. Little had 24 and Scott 22.
The Wildcats and Vikings played a back-and-forth first half of basketball. Taylor played a quick transition game that yielded several layups. Meanwhile, Echols' best weapon was a deadly outside shooting game. Echols drilled 12 three-pointers on the game, including five in the first quarter and four more in the second.
Clarence Stacey was Echols' hottest shooter, sinking three three-pointers in the first quarter to help the Wildcats grab a 19-15 lead at the end of one quarter.
Echols increased the lead to 28-21 early in the second, but Taylor charged back to take a 38-36 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, things started to go Taylor's way. Scott hit a jump shot, then a pair of three-pointers, which started the Vikings on a 15-2 run, giving the Vikings a 53-38 lead. Echols trailed 61-48 at the end of three.
But then the Wildcats rallied. Echols finished the third with four straight points, then scored 10 of the first 12 points of the fourth quarter, cutting the Taylor lead to five, 63-58, on Antwuan Keel's three-point play. Later, Stacey's three-pointer made it 69-65 with 2:50 to play, and Archie Johnson's three cut it to 71-68 30 seconds later.
But down the stretch, Taylor hit some key shots, grabbed some big rebounds, and put the game away.
Stacey and Johnson led Echols with 19 points apiece. Willie Brown added 13 and Brandon West 10.
Calhoun County girls 57, Echols County 50
Echols County's attempt to rally from a 20-point deficit fell just short, as Calhoun held on for a 57-50 victory.
The score was close throughout the first half. Calhoun led 14-11 after one period and 24-21 at halftime.
But in the third quarter, Calhoun suddenly took over the game. The Lady Cougars' full-court press started creating turnovers, and sometimes open baskets, for the Lady Cougars. Calhoun scored 19 of the first 21 points in the period, and took a 20-point lead, 43-23, with 1:18 left in the third quarter.
There was a towel on coach Jeanne Roberts' shoulder, but Echols refused to throw it in. The Lady Wildcats scored the last four points of the third quarter, then opened the fourth quarter on a 14-2 run. Senior Courtney Robinson had seven points during the run and Latoria Brown had five. Robinson's three-pointer with 5:01 left pulled the Lady Wildcats to within 45-41.
Unfortunately for Echols, that was where the run ended. Down the stretch, Calhoun's Shannon Coleman and JoDonna Molden made several key shots, and Echols was unable to get any closer than four points.
Young led Echols with 17 points. Robinson and Eden Fluker added 11 for the Lady Wildcats. Coleman led all scorers with 22, while Molden added 14 and Shanterria Battle 12 for Calhoun.
Central Talbotton boys 69, Clinch County 65
Central Talbotton held off a late rally by Clinch County, and advanced to the second round with a 69-65 victory.
Central held a 12-point lead, 53-41, late in the third quarter, but then Clinch went on a 9-1 run, getting a couple of baskets from Boris Lee, then five points from Dexter Foster, to cut the Hawks' lead to four, 54-50, with 4:44 left in the game.
Three Central free throws and a jumper by Clinch's Russell Robinson made it a five-point game, 57-52. Then Central staged a 6-0 run, taking a lead that Clinch would not be able to overcome.
The first quarter was back-and-forth between Clinch and Central. The Panthers took a 7-4 lead, but Central came right back with two baskets, and wound up leading 17-14 after one period. The Hawks extended their lead to 34-29 at halftime.
In the third period, the teams traded shots again, until the end of the period, when Central went on a 7-0 run to go up by 12. Then Clinch made its fourth quarter rally.
Foster led Clinch with 15 points. Lee added 12. Emmanuel Carter led four Central players in double figures with 17 points. Albert Dozier added 16, Buckner 15 and Caradaria Lamar 12 for the Hawks.
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