Ellwood Christian and Keith advanced to regional tournament

Published 6:35 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Three teams from the Selma/ Dallas County area have advanced to the regional semi-final round of the AHSAA basketball state tournament.

Both the girls and boys teams from Keith High School and the Ellwood Christian Academy boys team are headed to Montgomery to play in the Central Region bracket at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome on Alabama State University’s campus.

In order to reach the regionals, the teams had to survive their respective area tournaments and win a sub-region game.

The Ellwood Christian Eagles swept their area opponents during the regular season and won both games in the Class 1A Area 5 tournament. They finished as the regular season and area tournament champions. The Eagles defeated the Winterboro Bulldogs 69-59 in the sub-region game this past Tuesday.

“It’s big to be able to say you’re going to be one of those teams in the regionals,” Ellwood Christian head coach Willie Shears said. “Our first goal was to win the area championship. We did that. Our second goal was to get to Montgomery. We’re not going to look past anybody. We’re going to take it play by play, minute by minute and quarter by quarter.

Ellwood will face Cornerstone in the regional semi-final game on Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. The winner will move on to the regional finals on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 2:15 p.m.

The Keith Bears, on the other hand, took the long route to make it to the regional semi-finals. The Bears won the first game of the Class 2A Area 7 tournament against Francis Marion 57-46, but lost in the title game to the tournament host Aliceville. Losing in the area final meant that the Bears had to travel to Thorsby for its sub-regional game against Thorsby.

Even though they were on the road with their season on the line, Keith was able to defeat Thorsby 63-46. Arayvion Jones led the team with 20 points in the game, while Kendarius Perry and Tyree Webster finished the game with 16 points each. The Bears will face Goshen in the first round of the region semi-finals on Friday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. the winner of the game will play in the region finals match on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 10:45 a.m.

The Lady Bears did take care of business in the area tournament and won the Class 2A Area 7 tournament. They defeated Francis Marion in the first round and R.C. Hatch in the second round to win the title and advance. The Lady Bears hosted the sub-regional game in Orrville and defeated the Verbena Red Devils 70-30. Keith guard Jakyra Simmons led the team with 18 points in that game. The Lady Bears will meet Southern Choctaw in the region semi-finals game on Friday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. The winner of that game will advance to the region finals on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 9 a.m.

It will take two wins to advance to the state tournament in Birmingham. The teams from Keith and ECA are on the verge of accomplishing their early season goals.