Southside's Sammarkus Jones (1) prepares to pull up for a jumper during Saturday's Class 3A state title game in Birmingham. -- Robert Hudson
Southside's Sammarkus Jones (1) prepares to pull up for a jumper during Saturday's Class 3A state title game in Birmingham. -- Robert Hudson

Madison comes back to defeat Southside for 3A title

Published 6:18pm Saturday, March 2, 2013

BIRMINGHAM — The Southside Panthers raced out to a 27-14 halftime lead, but that proved not to be enough cushion to hold off a comeback, as they fell 54-47 to the Madison Academy Mustangs in the Class 3A state championship game on Saturday.

Cedric Brown, head basketball coach of Southside (24-10), said the Panthers tried to focus their attention on stopping Madison guard Joshua Langford, but he went on to score 21 points, snag 19 rebounds and dished out six assists to claim the tournament most valuable player award.

“We saw him against Greensboro [in the semifinals], and he’s an excellent passer. Once he gets to the paint, he’s a great finisher as well, and he’s good at the free throw line,” Brown said. “That was kind of the game plan, to keep Langford out of the paint and close out on shooters.”

Southside extended its halftime lead to 17 points early in the third, as senior Octavious Gulley scored in the paint, and seniors Sammarkus Jones and Jeffery Mack each added baskets after Langford hit a shot, making it a 33-16 game with 3:43 left in the quarter.

But the Mustangs (24-12) started to close the gap, scoring 13 of the quarter’s final 15 points, including a pair of 3-pointers by Nick Hass and a pair of free throws and a basket by Langford to make it a 35-30 game going into the fourth.

Southside’s Jevon Hall opened the fourth with a runner, but Langford finished off a three-point play, scoring under the basket and hitting his free throw after being fouled to make it 37-33.

Hall responded with a three, but Madison reeled off six straight points, including a pair of free throws and a layup by Langford, and a shot under the basket by Quan Cothron that made it 40-39 with 6:11 left.

Southside’s Derick Daniels scored down low, but Cothron added another basket to bring the score to 42-41.

Gulley answered back with a basket in the paint, but Chandler Trach buried a three for the Mustangs that tied the game at 44-44 with 4:22 remaining.

Madison took its first lead since early in the first quarter, as Cothron scored under the basket again to make the score 46-44 with 3:50 left.

Gulley hit a shot to tie it back up at 46-46, and Hall hit one of two free throws to give the Panthers a 47-46 lead, but Madison’s Alex Hairston converted a three-point play and Langford went two of three from the line after a technical foul on the Panthers, as the Mustangs went up 51-47 and never trailed again.

Mack said the Panthers played a little too laid back in the second half.

“First half, we had a decent first half. Second half, we came out, and I think we were a little bit too relaxed with where we were,” Mack said, “and we started to give up defensive plays, let them get offensive rebounds, and they just started playing ball.”

Jones led Southside with 17 points, 15 of which came in the first half.

Mack had 16 points, 14 rebounds and four steals for the Panthers.

Mack and Jones were both named to the all-tournament team.

Throughout the game, and the season that was filled with challenges, Southside head coach Cedric Brown said his team fought hard the entire way, and he’s proud of what they’ve accomplished.

“It’s been an excellent run. I would not have loved to do this with another group of seniors such as Jeffery, Sammarkus, Gulley, and Robert Sullivan. This group of guys has been phenomenal,” Brown said. “Once we started preseason lifting weights, running, we already knew what the goal was. The goal was to get to Birmingham and win a state championship. To get here and to be right there at it is even more special. To get here with these guys is even more special.”

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