Eufaula boys fall in overtime of 5A state championship


Sylacauga’s Aggies battled back from an 11-point third-quarter deficit to nip Eufaula 79-78 in overtime to claim the Class 5A boys’ state basketball title at the BJCC Legacy Arena Saturday morning.
       The final was the second of a six-championship game slate on the final day of the AHSAA’s 96th State Basketball Finals state tournament. It is also the 25th year for the tournament at the BJCC.
    Senior Malik Crawford had 20 points, 10 rebounds and sank 6-of-8 free rows to pace the Aggies (31-5) of Coach Will Copeland. The Class 5A state tourney MVP sank two free throws with 47 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter put Sylacauga ahead by four, 66-62.
    Eufaula (29-10), coached by Michael Smith, battled back on a jumper by Terrell Jones with 40 seconds left in the period and a rebound and put-back by Marquise Jones with five seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
    The intensity displayed in the first four quarters continued in the extra period. Sylacauga scored the first six points led 77-70 with 1:21 remaining when the Tigers battled back once again thanks in part to Anthony Haigler’s offensive rebounding that led to three quick baskets. Aggies senior Darian Garrett sank two free throws with 55 seconds left in OT to make it 79-75.     Laquaveous Nelson, who led Eufaula with 21 points, came up with a steal, made a layup and was fouled. His made free throw cut the lead to 79-78. The Tigers got one last chance with four seconds left but closely guarded shot was off its mark.
    Jones finished with 16 points and nine rebounds for Sylacauga. Garrett had 14 and was 7-of-10 at the foul line. Malik Powell scored 13 points and Keaton Wilson had five points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots for the Aggies.
     Terrell Jones chipped in 20 points and seven steals for Eufaula before fouling out late. Tyler Mayo added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Smith’s Tigers had three starters foul out and at eight players played at least 13 minutes in the contest.
      The championship was the second in school history for Sylacauga. The first one came 30 years ago in 1988. Eufaula  has four state championships to its credit (1953, 1978, 1986, 1999).
     The Class 6A and 7A girls’ and boys’ state championship games close out the competition at Legacy Arena Saturday.
      Raycom Sports is broadcast all finals over its TV network consisting of Raycom affiliates’ Bounce and D-2 channels. WTVM TV 9 in Columbus (GA) is aired the Class 5A boys’ finals between Eufaula and Sylacauga today, and WSFA TV 12 in Montgomery plans to air the Class 6A boys’ finals featuring Carver-Montgomery versus Paul Bryant over their main channels.
      The NFHS Network is also live-streaming all finals over its subscriber-based platform, and the AHSAA Radio Network is broadcasting the championship games over its state-wide radio network and website.
Malik Crawford, Sylacauga (MVP); Malik Powell, Sylacauga; Desmon Jones, Sylacauga; Tyler Mayo, Eufaula; Laquaveous Nelson, Eufaula; Terrell Jones, Eufaula; Cameron Tucker, Wenonah.


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