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Hartselle Enquirer

Tigers reign supreme at county championships

Hartselle head coach Faron Key holds up the championship net after Hartselle took home the county crown. | Caleb Suggs
Hartselle head coach Faron Key holds up the championship net after Hartselle took home the county crown. | Caleb Suggs

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

Nine years is a long time and nobody understands that more than the Hartselle Tigers. Hartselle last won the Morgan County championship in 2008, and since then, it has been a rough stretch for the Tigers. However, that all changed this year. It what could only be described as domination, Hartselle breezed through their three games in the tournament by averaging 68 points per game and averaging a 37-point margin of victory over their three opponents. “Our hard work is finally paying off.” Eric Stephenson, the MVP of the tournament said. “We still have work to do but we’re getting there.” Priceville, the defending champions, did their best to take home the crown but on this night, it was Hartselle’s to claim.

Hartselle opened the game by taking a 14-6 lead. Priceville cut it to 16-14 but the Tigers extended it to 29-16 by halftime. It was over from there. By the time the third quarter ended, Hartselle held a 46-20 lead. The Tigers eventually took the win 54-25.

“This feels good. It’s great for our seniors.” Hartselle head coach Faron Key said. “Those guys stuck with us when things weren’t that great and I was glad they were able to get this.” Eric Stephenson led the Tigers with 12 points. Trace Hill and Kyle Eddy both had 10. Brandon Speegle led Priceville with 8.

Lady Tiger’s upset Brewer for third straight title

It was unique scene outside the locker room, after the Hartselle Lady Tigers had just won their third straight county tournament. Moriah Taylor, the tournament’s MVP for the second straight year, tried to hand off her award to her teammate Anna Mathis, who refused to accept. Both players tried to convince the other way they deserved it, but the truth is that Hartselle needed both of them on this night. For the second straight night, Hartselle faced a double-digit deficit in the second half. Top seeded Brewer refused to let the loss of star Shyan Flack to injury bring them down, and were giving the Tigers all they could handle.

When Katelyn Childs’ three pointer sailed through the basket before the buzzer, Brewer held a 25-16 at halftime, and by the end of the third, they held a 36-29. However, just like she had so many times before, Taylor caught fire with three baskets from behind the arch to bring the Tigers back in it. From there, Mathis took over and gave Hartselle a go ahead layup with two seconds left in the game. Hartselle took the win 47-45 and with it, their third straight county championship.

“I was a nervous early on and I had to settle in.” Taylor said. “But I knew we were going to win.” Mathis shared the same sentiment. “I knew we could win at halftime.” Mathis said. “Last time we were down by 22 so this was nothing.” Moriah Taylor led the Tigers with 21. Anna Mathis had 8. McCarley Northway led the Patriots with 23 points.