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Hatch boys to play for state title

The R.C. Hatch boys are one win away from doing it again.

The state’s most decorated basketball program will go for its record eighth state championship Thursday at 8 p.m. at dismantling Northeast Regional champions Priceville 85-39 in Tuesday’s state 2A semifinals. The Bobcats led wire-to-wire while owning an overwhelming 45-23 rebounding advantage and limiting the perimeter-oriented Bulldogs to only one two-point field goal the entire game.

“We played a box-and-one to try and contain their shooter (Josh Bedwell),” said Hatch head coach Homer Davis. “We thought if we could keep them from getting a spark at the beginning of the game, we could get off to a good lead and control the tempo, and that’s exactly what happened.”

The outcome was never in doubt as four different Hatch players combined to score the game’s first nine point and the Bobcats cruised from there. Three Bulldog three-pointers in a one-minute span cut Hatch’s first-quarter lead to 14-9, but Frankie Sullivan responded with a three-pointer of his own and a rim-rattling dunk to spark a 9-0 run quarter-closing run.

It only got worse for Priceville as the Bobcats got a second dunk from Sullivan to ignite the crowd on their way to scoring the first eight points of the second quarter, giving them an insurmountable 31-9 lead.

Four different Bobcats finished in double figures, led by Phillip Johnson with a game-high 16 points. Calvin Pope and Sullivan each finished with 15 while Willie Coleman notched 12.

Pope and Sullivan each finished with 10 rebounds to give each player a double-double while Coleman grabbed 7. Thanks to their dominance inside, Priceville only attempted 16 two-point field goals (compared to 31 threes) and only connected on one.

“They’re an excellent team,” said Priceville head coach Darrell Haynes. “We didn’t play very well tonight, but Hatch had a lot to do with that … usually we can get some baskets inside to open up our outside game, but we couldn’t do that tonight. That was the big key.”

Following the players in double figures for Hatch were Lorenzo Jones with 8, Antwain Starks with 6, DeMarcus Porter with 5, Hugh Turner with 4, and Eric Sullivan and Kelvin Dudley with 2 points each. Hatch led 43-21 at the half, 62-27 at the end of three quarters, and by 46 points at game’s end.

One more positive for Hatch? 16 assists in the game to only 7 turnovers, a sparkling 2.29 assist-to-turnover ratio.

“It’s fun,” Pope, a junior, said of a game where he and his teammates get to own the boards and share the wealth. “I just want to play as hard as I can and help my teammates out. Of course,” he added with a smile, “I can’t help them out all the time.”