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R.C. Hatch claims state championship

BIRMINGHAM &045; There are players that beat opponents, and then there are players that happen to opponents.

Frankie Sullivan happened to Barbour County Wednesday night &045; much the same way a natural disaster happens to an unsuspecting town.

Despite playing most of the game in foul trouble, Sullivan led a comeback and scored an unprecedented 51 points to help the Bobcats beat Barbour County 81-59.

“I was being over-aggressive going to the basket, and coach told me to stop and start pulling up,” said Sullivan, who earned tournament MVP. “I calmed down and let the game come to me. My teammates backed me up even though I was in foul trouble.”

Sullivan’s point tally was a record for a 2A state championship game, and it came at the right time.

Barbour County’s collapse was almost catastrophic. The Jaguars (30-4) had Hatch &045; a team that went ranked No. 1 throughout the season &045;by the neck for three-fourths of the game. The Jags held a 43-27 lead at halftime, and then succumbed to the Hatch press in the fourth quarter.

“We had them for three quarters, the we lost our composure at the end of the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter,” Barbour coach Raymond White said. “Our hats go off to R.C. Hatch for a great game.”

Devondrick Richardson led Barbour in scoring with 20 points, followed by Terrence Blakely with 15 and Courtavious Dorsey with 14.

The Jags could do almost nothing wrong in the first half. They only shot 38 percent from the field, but held Hatch to 22 percent shooting.

Sullivan went to the bench for the last 2 1-2 minutes of the second quarter and also missed the beginning of the fourth.

It was then that Rodney Scott, who scored 10 points, took control with the team’s leader helpless on the sidelines. He scored five straight points to cut the Barbour’s lead to 56-50 with 5:59 left in the game. He added a 3-pointer later that made it a 58-56 contest.

“I wasn’t strong through the first three quarters,” Scott said. “I didn’t come out like I was supposed to come out. I had to start helping the team. Real champions come from behind. I knew I had to get up in the fourth quarter if I wanted to take home another state championship.”

The win makes three straight titles for the team, 10 in the history of the program and five for Sullivan.

Coach Homer Davis Jr. praised the entire team for coming together and pulling out what at first looked to be an unlikely feat.

“All our players stepped up,” Davis said. “We’ve got role players we can go to that will hold their heads up because they know the game is long from being over. They know their roles, and they know when we get in a tight situation, Frankie is the go-to man. They respect that.”