7A South Region Champions
First Trip to the state semifinals!
Theodore coach Philip Roebling was almost at a loss for words following his team’s dramatic 74-70 win over McGill-Toolen in the Class 7A South Regional final on Tuesday.
“I’m not sure how we won,” Roebling said. “I guess it was guts and determination by our kids. They have a never quit attitude. They never think they are going to lose even when they are down, and we were down for most of the game today.”
Sixth-ranked McGill (28-5) seemed in control throughout. The Yellow Jackets shot 52 percent in the first half and led 38-27 at intermission behind the play of Logan Cooney (21 total points) and Rene Scott (20).
They built the lead to 51-38 on Marlon Williams’ foul-line jumper with 2:47 left in the third. However, that is when the momentum begin to shift a bit. McGill coach Phillip Murphy received a technical minutes later.
Theodore (28-4) went on a 9-3 run to end the quarter and trailed just 54-47 entering the fourth. That is when Alabama commit Dazon Ingram took over. The 6-foot-4 senior scored 10 of his game-high 22 points in the final quarter and made the play that turned the game for good.
With McGill leading 68-67 and less than a minute left, Ingram took an inbounds pass, drove to the basket on the right side for a dunk and was fouled. He hit the free throw and the Bobcats led 70-68 with 37.3 seconds left. It was their first lead since 4:18 was left in the first quarter.
“I was supposed to look for Kyante (Pines) on a pick and pop,” said Ingram, who also had nine rebounds. “McGill went over the top of that so I passed on it. From that point, I just decided to go in for the layup.”
After a miss by Scott on the other end, Ingram rebounded and was fouled. He hit three of four free throws down the stretch, and Rodney Gill knocked down another as the Bobcats held on.
It is the first trip to the state semifinals in in Theodore history.
Pines followed Ingram with 17 points, Gill had 12 and tournament MVP Alonzo Moore had 11.
-- Star of the game: Moore was the MVP after scoring 28 points in two games, but Ingram was the difference on Tuesday. He finished 6 of 13 from the field and 10 of 17 from the free throw line and took the game over late in the fourth despite having four fouls.
-- By The Numbers: 30, free throws shot by Theodore in the second half. The Bobcats made 17 and finished 22 of 37 overall. McGill was 10 of 27 in the game. They went to the line nine times in the second half. … 3, technical fouls called in the game. One each on Murphy, McGill’s Tripp Cobb and Ingram (for hanging on the rim). … 12, players who saw action for McGill. …. 2, players who fouled out (Moore for Theodore and Deion Dozier for McGill).
-- Quotable: “We were trying to be more aggressive in the second half when we knew they were in foul trouble,” Roebling said. “Though we missed a good many free throws, we went to the line a lot and scored with the clock stopped and that helped.”
“They shot 28 (actually 30) free throws in the second half,” Murphy said of Theodore. “That is what happened. I have all the respect in the world for Theodore and all those guys."
“This feels amazing,” Pines said. “Last year, we were so depressed (after losing to Blount in the 6A regional final). We kept that in our minds all year and tried to stay focused. Today, we never gave up.”
-- What’s next? Theodore will play two-time state champ Mountain Brook in the semifinals at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 26 in Birmingham. The Spartans advanced with a 65-59 win over Gadsden City on Tuesday.