No. 1 R.C. Hatch takes advantage of Keith miscues

Published 12:03 am Saturday, January 28, 2017

ORRVILLE — Midway through Friday night’s second quarter, Keith was outplaying top-ranked R.C. Hatch and threatening to pull off a potential season changing upset.

The Bobcats (16-1) responded with a 10-0 run and led the rest of the way in a 60-47 victory. The win completed a perfect season in area play for R.C. Hatch and complicates the tiebreaker for class 2A, area 7’s second, third and fourth seed. Keith, Francis Marion and Aliceville all tied with 2-4 area records.

“That was our first goal was to win the area and host the area,” said R.C. Hatch coach Homer Davis. “They accomplished that goal. We want to finish strong and try to peak before playoffs. I don’t think at this time we have peaked yet.”

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Keith (8-13) will look back at the end of the second quarter as where the game got away from it. The Bears trailed 10-1 early, but went on a 14-4 run to tie the game. Justyn Pettway made a 3-pointer to give Keith its first and only lead of the game, but Freddie Ward answered with a 3-pointer from Hatch.

De’Andre Battle made back-to-back layups to put Hatch up 22-18. Jessie Johnson made a 3-pointer in the final seconds to extend the lead to 25-18.

The Bobcats kept their momentum going in the third quarter.

The Bobcats jumped out to an 18-point lead early in the fourth quarter and withstood a late Keith run.

The Bears missed nine free throws in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over at inopportune times down the stretch.

“We did some things down the stretch that when we watch on film my guys are going to kick themselves and say coach ‘I could have, if I would have,’” said Keith coach Tommy Tisdale.

“We are going to try to fix all those ifs between now and when we have to go down to the area tournament.”

Davis wasn’t happy with how his team finished the game either. The Bobcats sent the Bears to the line a lot in the final minutes, stopping the clock and giving Keith a chance to cut into the lead.

“We didn’t need any more points. We had enough points to win the ballgame,” Davis said.

Pettway scored 13 points for Keith in the game and Tyre Webster joined him in double figures with 10 points.

Venatris Lipscomb had 12 points to lead R.C. Hatch in scoring.

“If we can stay healthy down the stretch and if we can make mental adjustments, I still have all the confidence in the world that we can play with anybody in our class and that’s all that matters,” Tisdale said.