Keith's Walton Young, right, looks for an open teammate during Thursday's game in Montgomery. -- Robert Hudson
Keith's Walton Young, right, looks for an open teammate during Thursday's game in Montgomery. -- Robert Hudson

Keith falls to St. Jude in Central Regional title game

Published 1:43am Friday, February 22, 2013

MONTGOMERY — The Keith Bears had a manageable deficit to deal with at the half, but they couldn’t hold off the St. Jude Pirates in Thursday’s 78-63 loss in the Class 1A Central Regional Championship game.

Tommy Tisdale, head boys basketball coach of Keith (21-11), said St. Jude hit some key shots and got some key rebounds, but the Bears fought hard in the loss.

“They did a good job of making shots. I thought they were beating us on the boards, but we actually led it. But size played a big factor down the stretch underneath the basket,” Tisdale said. “My guys fought hard. We probably didn’t execute here and there in some spots, but I wouldn’t trade this group of guys for anybody in the world. People say if we had size, or coach, if you had this or that, but we go with what we’ve got. The guys put up the fight that we asked for. That’s about all I can ask for. All we asked for, they gave to me.”

Keith was trailing the Pirates (26-6) by double digits at 30-18 with 5:25 left in the first half, but went on a scoring run.

Anfernee Simmons hit three of four free throws and scored a layup and a shot under the paint, while teammate Demond Holmes added a low-post basket that helped send Keith into the locker room trailing only 32-29.

St. Jude started the second half strong, as tournament most valuable player Andrew Rogers scored on a thundering dunk to make it 34-29.

Senior Rodney Ellis hit three free throws to bring Keith within two points at 34-32.

But St. Jude’s Keith Washington scored on a layup and Rogers scored a shot and the free throw to extend the Pirates’ lead to 39-32 with 6:09 left in the third.

Holmes hit a pair of free throws and Simmons hit a jumper to make it 39-36 with 5:41 left in the quarter, but Washington hit two free throws and another layup that made it 43-36.

Simmons scored on a fast-break layup for Keith, but St. Jude went on an 8-0 run and scored 12 of the third quarter’s last 15 points to go into the fourth leading 55-41.

The Pirates extended their lead to as much as 72-54 in the fourth.

Despite a height advantage for the Pirates, Keith had 44 rebounds to St. Jude’s 43, but St. Jude shot 67 percent from the field on the night to Keith’s 32 percent.

Simmons, a junior who was named to the all-tournament team, had 21 points and four rebounds for Keith, while Ellis, who was also named to the all-tournament team, had 14 points and three steals for the Bears.

Holmes had 10 points and five rebounds for Keith, while Walton Young added 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals for the Bears off the bench.

Rogers led St. Jude with 20 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks, while Washington had 17 points for the Pirates.

Keith ends the season as the Class 1A Central Regional runner-up.

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