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Hartselle Enquirer

Black Bears take down Minor with ease. Clinch State Tournament berth

Austin senior Jason Scott. | Caleb Suggs
Austin senior Jason Scott. | Caleb Suggs

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

The Austin Black Bears clinched the first State Tournament appearance since 2007 Tuesday afternoon, and it wasn’t even close. From start to finish, the Black Bears completely outclassed and outplayed the Minor Tigers and it showed on the scoreboard.

Austin started the game on a 14-0 run. Anthony Mason scored eight of those points including the first six. Fabian Bell and Javan Johnson both had three point shots during the run. When the first quarter was finally over, Austin held a 25-7 lead, and it only got worse for the Minor Tigers. Austin led 45-16 at halftime and 68-28 at the end of the third. The Black Bears were on pace to reach 90 points for the second game in a row but took their foot off the gas in the fourth and took home the win 77-42. Anthony Mason was Austin’s leading scorer with 19 points while Javan Johnson finished with 16. Fabien Bell scored 13 in the game and Jason Scott had nine. Torey Brown and Joshua Jackson led Minor with seven points each. Mason, Scott and Johnson were elected to the All-Tournament team with Johnson taking home the tournament MVP.

After the game, all Minor head coach Torrance Brown could do was tip his hat to the other team. “I think that is the best team I’ve went against as a head coach.” Brown said. “Their a complete team and as good as advertised.” Austin blew open the game in the first half thanks in part to some high quality defense that head coach Jake Miles said the black Bears would work on after their win over Bessemer City last week. “I’m proud of our kids and I’m proud of our defensive effort.” Miles said. “We were able to defend at a high rate.” Austin hasn’t been to the state tournament in a a decade but Miles knows what it takes to get there as he was an assistant on that team. “We never talked about winning the state championship.” Miles said. “You have to get there to win it and we focused on winning our area and winning regionals first.”

For senior and Troy commit Javan Johnson, who has played varsity since his freshman year, the regional tournament was a hump he was glad to be over. “That was a goal we set coming into this year that we wanted to get past regionals.” Johnson said. “I’m glad we did it.”

Austin will face Paul Bryant in the Final Four of the state tournament on Wed., March 1 at 10:30 a.m.

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