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Bobcats sweep Rams

Frankie Sullivan got plenty of help. Kevin Curry didn’t.

And in the end, that made the difference between bitter Perry County rivals R.C. Hatch and Francis Marion Saturday night, as Hatch took a 69-56 win to sweep the season series from the Rams.

Sullivan, a sophomore guard who has attracted national recruiting attention and leads R.C. Hatch in scoring, shook off a recent knee injury to score 25 points for the Bobcats. Curry finished with 31 after draining a series of second-half threes to keep his team within striking distance, but while three different Bobcats joined Sullivan in double figures Curry was the only Ram to score more than eight points.

“It was a good ball game,” said Hatch head coach Homer Davis. “We tried to control the tempo of the game. [Curry] got loose for some threes that kept them in the game, but our guys fought hard, stayed in there and played and we won it.”

Hatch took control of the game in the first quarter and never trailed. Sullivan stole a number of early Ram passes which he converted into points, scoring 10 in the game’s first three minutes as the Bobcats built a 20-6 lead.

But Marion chipped away over the next several minutes, eventually cutting the lead to 22-16 on a Jonathan Anderson basket with 4:40 remaining in the first half. Willie Coleman answered for Hatch with a three only 10 seconds later, however, and a Calvin Pope bucket with two seconds to play pushed the Bobcat lead back to 13, 34-21, at the half.

The second half was more of the same as each Marion charge was answered by the Bobcats. Despite 12 third-quarter points from Curry, Hatch still led 45-36 after a ferocious Sullivan dunk just ahead of the third period buzzer.

A free throw by Curry capped a 9-2 Ram run to start the fourth quarter that brought Marion within two with 5:27 remaining. But Phillip Johnson and Sullivan each hit a pair of free throws on the Bobcats’ next two possessions, sparking a 12-5 run that put Hatch up 59-50 with less than a minute remaining.

Even then, Curry and the Rams weren’t through. As a large portion of the sold-out Hatch home crowd made its way towards the exits, Curry hit five straight free throws in only seven seconds of playing time to cut the lead to four with 48.3 seconds to play. But the Bobcats hit nine of 12 free throws down the stretch to preserve the win.

Joining Sullivan in double figures for Hatch were Coleman with 12, Johnson with 11, and Pope with 10. They were followed by Eric Sullivan with 6 and Lorenzo Jones with 4.

Curry’s 31 for Marion was followed by Anderson’s 8, Antonio Collins’s 8, Charles Gray’s 3, Edward Hinkle’s 2, Devan Dunnican’s 1, and Justin Johnson’s 1.

Both teams return to area action this week. Francis Marion will travel to Aliceville Friday looking to rebound, while Hatch will visit Orrville to take on the Keith Bears Tuesday. The Bobcats are coming off of a successful holiday season which saw them take the Wilcox Tournament crown and hold their No. 2 ranking in Class 2A. With Pope back from injury and Sullivan nearing full strength, Davis hopes the Bobcats can continue their momentum in area play.

“We’re trying to get back on track,” Davis said. “This is a great rivalry, and now we need to get ready for our area game on Tuesday.”