Hatch wins state title

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 3, 2006

R.C Hatch took home their eighth state championship in thrilling fashion Thursday night, defeating the Lanett Panthers 55-52 in overtime.

Hatch overcame a five-point deficit entering the fourth quarter and despite leading scorer Frankie Sullivan fouling out at the end of regulation, took a 51-48 lead with 1:41 in the extra period on a Willie Coleman basket and a Lorenzo Jones free throw.

Although Lanett twice pegged the lead back to one, Hatch answered both times and got their final points on a Phillip Johnson dive with 20 seconds to play, putting the Bobcats up 55-52. Despite Calvin Pope missing two free throws that would have sealed the victory, three-pointers by Julian McCoy and Deontra Marbury in the final five seconds each missed and Hatch came away with the victory.

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Sullivan and Coleman shared team-high scoring honors with 12 points each as four Bobcats finished in double-figures. Johnson recorded 11 points, Pope 10, Jones 8, and Antwain Starks 2.

Behind four three-pointers in the game’s first six minutes, all shot over the Bobcats’ zone defense, Lanett opened up a 16-8 first-quarter lead. Frankie Sullivan’s eight first-quarter points brought Hatch within 18-16 at the end of the period, but a long cold drought to start the second enabled Lanett to take their largest lead, 31-18, with 3:01 to play in the first half.

A Lorenzo Jones three helped Hatch cut the lead to 34-25 at halftime, and as the Bobcat defense held Lanett to one point over the first six minutes of the second half Hatch pulled to within 35-33 on a Pope basket. Lanett surged back on top 42-37 to end the third quarter and led 45-41 with 4:20 to play.

But Hatch would score seven of the game’s next nine points, taking a 48-47 lead on a Phillip Johnson putback with 40 seconds to play. Julian McCoy then hit one of two free throws with 21 seconds left to send the game into over time.

Hatch finishes with a 31-3 record in their eighth boys’ championship season.

Due to press deadline, full coverage, including reaction from Hatch players and coaches, will be available in Saturday’s edition of the Times.