Hatch in final four, again

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 23, 2007

MONTGOMERY &045; It seems the shooting games in practice are helping Frankie Sullivan even more than he thinks. Sullivan led all scorers with 27 points and was named the Class 2A Boys Central Regional tournament MVP in R.C. Hatch’s 71-56 win over Pickens County last night.

For the second consecutive night, Sullivan scored the final basket of a quarter on a circus shot. With time running out in the first half, he hoisted up a 3-pointer from 28 feet and sent the Bobcats (22-4) into the locker room with a 31-21 lead. Sullivan helped Hatch break away from a 19-19 tie by scoring 10 points in the final 2:51 of the half.

But his real magic came late in the game. Sullivan was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line as part of a 10-3 run that gave the team a 69-52 advantage with 1:13 to play in the game. He was 10-of-12 shooting from the line in the game.

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The grit the Bobcats learned at home is paying off in another Final Four appearance in Birmingham. Hatch survived late rallies in the game to hold on for the win. The Tornadoes (24-6) hit 5-of-6 free throws in less than a minute to cut the Bobcats’ lead to 39-33 with 1:02 left in the third quarter. A triple from Billy Byrd with 6:35 left in the fourth brought Pickens within five, 47-42.

Hatch would then go to work. The Bobcats scored the next nine points unanswered to take a 56-42 lead, and they were never threatened again.

The first of two Pickens leads came early in the game. A 6-0 run put the team ahead, 10-5 with 3:20 left in the first. Despite a 6-0 Hatch run to end the quarter, the Tornadoes went into the second leading by two, 13-11.

Hatch has lived up to expectations all year long and now has its shot at a second consecutive state title and fourth in the last five years.

&8220;We’ve been here so many times,&8221; Pope said. &8220;With the team we have and the talent we have, we feel like we expect to make it back-to-back.&8221;

Antwain Starks scored 11 points in the game for Hatch, De’Marcus Porter had 10 and Calvin Pope had five points and eight rebounds.

Hatch will take on the winner of the northwest regional on Tuesday in Birmingham. Tip-off is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.