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R.C. Hatch wins championship

Birmingham – After being down 10 points to open the 4th quarter, the R. C. Hatch Bobcats staged a daring comeback, as a champoinship team would, to defeat the No. 1 ranked 2A Calera Eagles Thursday 74 – 63.

“I told them that they got themselves in this,” said an elated Bobcat coach Eugene Mason after the game. “They must work it out for them selves. And they did.”

Bobcat senior Quinton Collins, who made the finals all-tournament team, got the momentum going for his team as he started the 4th with a jumper and a triple. Within the next minute Bobcat starters freshman Calvin Pope and 8th grader Frankie Sullivan fouled out of the game. It seems the Hatch momentum would be stalled. It wasn’t. They fought back to tie the game at 58 on a fsatbreak layup by senior Jamaris Johnson, Pope’s replacement, and assisted by junior Darryl Wilson, Sullivan’s replacement, with 2:59 left in the game. The R C Hatch crowd went wild.

After an Eagle turnover, Collins followed with a three pointer to give his team the advantage.

“Coach always tells me to have a heart of a lion and keep God first,” said Collins.

Calera tied the game at 61 on a free throw and a field goal and 2:14 showing on the clock. The Bobcats went up for good when Wilson found Johnson again for a layup.

“I’ve been on his (Johnson) back all season, he produced at the right time.” added Caoch Mason.

Johnson scored 10 points and pulled down 4 rebounds in the quarter. On their next possession Bobcat senior Fredrick Lewis, the finals tournament MVP, dropped one in from behind the arch to put R C hatch up by five and 1:14 to go.

It all but disrupted the Eagles as they would only scored one more point. “Calera is a very competitive team,” commented Caoch Mason, “I’m very happy that we were successful.”

In the first half of the game the Bobcats at one time were ahead by as much as 13 points. They took a 34 – 28 lead in to the half. They also out rebounded the Eagles 33 – 17 in the first two quarters. It was the third quarter that put R C Hatch in the hole, as Calera shot 69 percent for the quarter and out scored the Bobcats 25 – 9.

Things turned around in the 4th as the Bobcats held the Eagles to two field goals, while shooting 65 percent themselves and out scoring the Eagles 31 – 10.

It was the second straight year that R C Hatch victimized Calara in the championship game.

“We didn’t defend and we didn’e rebound,” said a disgruntled Eagle coach Robert Burdette. With the win R C

Hatch becomes Alabama High Schools Athletic Association’s first boys high school team to win 7 state championship. The Bobcats previous championship seasons were 1978, 1985, 1987, 1994, 1995, and of course last year. Mason was the head coach for each year.

Along with Johnson, four other Bobcats scored in double figures. Collins poured in 19 points and stole the ball 3 times. Lewis scored a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Sullivan also scored a double-double with 11 rebounds and 10 points. Senoir Billy Campbell added 15 points. George Drake led the Eagles with 19 points.