Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 28, 2007

BIRMINGHAM &045; For the second time in as many years and for the fourth time in the last five years, the R.C, hatch Bobcats will appear in the AHSAA 2A state finals.

The Hatch defense had to fight off a pesky Tanner Rattler team to advance to the finals.

The Bobcats watched a 12-point lead in the first quarter turn into an eight-point deficit in the third quarter. It was the in the fourth quarter where the Hatch defense took charge.

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Down 56-44 going into the final stanza, the Bobcat full court press led to an 11-2 run in two and a half minutes into the quarter to get back within one. In the run, the Hatch defense forced five Rattler turnovers.

The next three minutes of the quarter resulted in three lead changes and three ties.

The Bobcats would go on top, for the first time since the 3:26 mark of the third quarter, on a Frankie Sullivan put back to make the score 66-64 with 2:12 left in the game. Six of the next eight Hatch points came from the free throw line to put them up 74-70 with seven seconds left.

The Bobcats started where they left off in Montgomery, building a 10-point advantage six minutes into the game. They first quarter ended with a 21-11 score, as DeMarcus Porter contributed nine points for Hatch.

Tanner battled back in the second quarter, almost reversing the first quarter score, with an 11-2 run by the Rattlers would get them to within one. Tanner would grab the lead with 35 seconds left in the quarter, and head to the locker room up 32-31.

Hatch would play most of the third quarter trailing Tanner. They gained the advantage briefly on an Antwain Starks jumper., but the Rattlers would regain the lead with 2:29 showing on the clock.

Sullivan led all scorers with 22 points, shooting just five of 15 from the floor. He also had four steals in the game.

Porter finished with 20 points, including sox for six from the line.

Rodney Scott added 10 points off the bench.

The Bobcats will return to the hardwood on Thursday, when they play for its ninth championship. This year’s opponent is Barbour County, with tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m.