Sumter has easy time with Litchfield; ready for Montgomery Academy

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 5, 2004

After their 77-58 stomping over the 24-9 Litchfield Eagles in Wednesday’s Final Four pairing at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center, the 29-2 Sumter County Wildcats prepare for to battle the 24-6 Montgomery Academy Eagles for their first 3A state championship and head coach Johnny Patrick’s fifth and final state championship.

Patrick has lead the Wildcats to four 4A state championships and five regional championships in his 21-year career as the Wildcats head coach, but announced last week after the Wildcats’ 54-51 Southwest Regional championship victory over the Francis Marion Rams that he would retire after this season.

“It’s time that I move on and spend a little more time doing some of the other things in life that I enjoy,” Patrick said.

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But in order for the Wildcats to grant their coach a final state title they will have to contend with a 24-6 Montgomery Academy team that has come alive in the last few weeks of the season and desperately want to capture their first ever state championship.

These young and inexperienced Eagles have found finally found their wings under head coach Anthony McCall and are ready to take flight today when they face the Wildcats in the AHSAA 3A state finals.

These two teams from two completely different backgrounds will come together on one court tonight at 8 p.m. to decide who will reign as the 2004 3A king of the courts.

The Eagles might not take many shots from the floor, but what they take, they make. The Eagles were 13-of-34 (45 percent) from the floor against the Sulligent Blue Devils Wednesday and 5-of-6 (83 percent) from behind the arch.

But where they can really hurt a team is at the free throw line. The Eagles were 26-of-32 (81 percent) from the line Wednesday. If the Eagles can go into the last few minutes of tonight’s game with a lead and force the Wildcats to foul, they will walk away from the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center with their first state championship.

As for the Wildcats it will be a matter of how fast can they get their shooting engines burning and put some distance between them and the sharp shooting Eagles. The Wildcats have been known to get off to a slow start. The Wildcats will need just one more big game performance from both leading scorers Marko Mitchell and Reaynundo Strurdivant.

The Wildcats have been fortunate enough to hold off all opponents this season that attempted to steal their No. 1 3A ranking, and now there is but one left.