Keith’s Walton Young (10) goes up for a shot against Maplesville’s Devonte Morrow during Friday’s area tournament game in Orrville. -- Robert Hudson

Bears all business in blowout win

Published 1:10am Saturday, February 9, 2013

ORRVILLE — The No. 4 Keith Bears had been waiting a long time for the opener of this year’s Class 1A Area 5 tournament.

After being upset at home by Sunshine in last season’s area tournament opener just one year after making the Class 1A state final four, the Bears wanted to make sure they didn’t falter again this season.

And they did not disappoint, as they dominated the Maplesville Red Devils 84-29 to advance to the Class 1 Area 5 championship game.

Tommy Tisdale, head boys basketball coach of Keith (18-10, ranked No. 4 in Class 1A), said last year’s area tournament loss has been in the back of the Bears’ minds all season long, and they made sure they didn’t repeat that performance with Friday’s win.

“I’d be a liar if I told you it wasn’t on my mind. I know it was on their mind. As a matter of fact, we’ve got it plastered on the wall in the locker room — the final score of last year’s game and a thing that says ‘never forgot’ that’s been up there since October,” Tisdale said. “We’ve actually been preparing for this game to continue to play. Regardless of the outcome Monday, we’ll at least be playing until next Friday. We wanted to be in a position to be in this position. I didn’t want to overpressure the guys, but I wanted to stress to them what we’re trying to do as a program.”

Keith was on a mission from the beginning, taking a 19-10 lead in the first quarter before going into halftime ahead 39-22.

But the Bears saved their best for the third quarter, as they outscored the Red Devils 23-0 in the period to go into the fourth leading 62-22.

Senior Rodney Ellis scored ten points in the third alone.

Tisdale said the Bears were losing the rebounding battle early, but soon got it together. And soon after, the shots started falling.

“I think we came out, and early on, we were getting beat on the glass. Then we got it together,” Tisdale said. “It was good to be at home. Shots started falling early for us, then things started looking pretty good for us.”

Ellis led the Bears with 22 points on the night, as John Pettway added 13 points, Anfernee Simmons had 12 points, and Carstella Hayes added 8 points off the bench for Keith on the night.

The Bears now set their sights on Monday’s area championship game, as they’ll host the Autaugaville Eagles at 7 p.m., with a chance to host the sub-regional playoff on the line.

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