The Ragland Purple Devils season came to an end Tuesday as they lost to the Brantley Bulldogs, 49-47, in overtime in the Class 1A semifinals at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Complex.
The Purple Devils got off to a slow start, going scoreless in the first quarter. But the Ragland defense played pretty well, holding the Bulldogs to seven points.
Wesley Person Jr. scored five of the seven first quarter points. Ragland finally got on the scoreboard with 7:06 left in the second quarter when Jimmy Brock hit one of two free throws to make it 7-1.
Brantley then went on another 7-0 run to make it 14-1 with 6:02 remaining in the second stanza before Ragland coach Andy Eden called his second timeout.
The Purple Devils finally got a bucket when Cody Jones nailed a two-pointer to make it 14-3. KiJana Lindsay added two free throws, and Brock added a bucket to make it 16-7 with 3:50 left in the first half.
Brock picked up his third foul of the game with 2:28 left, and had to go to the bench.
The only thing in Ragland’s favor the first half was they had a couple of Brantley players in foul trouble. The Bulldogs had 10 fouls compared to just five for the Purple Devils. Despite the foul discrepancy, the Bulldogs led 20-9 at intermission.
Ragland bounced back in the second half to even the score and force an overtime period.
Brock got Ragland on the scoreboard with 5:48 remaining in the third quarter to make the score 22-11. Brantley went on a 5-0 run to make it 27-11, and Eden called a timeout.
Lindsay hit the team’s first trey of the game with 4:40 left to make it 27-14.
When Ragland made it 27-18, Brantley called timeout. By the time the third quarter ended, Ragland had outscored Brantley 14-10 to close the gap to 30-23.
Since the first quarter, the two teams were tied in scoring at 23-23. When Ragland cut the Brantley lead to 34-27, Eden called timeout with 5:09 remaining in the game.
With 4:34 remaining, Jones hit a layup to make it 34-29. With 4:01 left, Jones hit a short jumper to make it 35-31. Brantley then turned the ball over, but Ragland was unable to make a shot. With 2:58 remaining, Brock picked up his fourth foul of the game and joined Lindsay with four fouls.
With 2:08 remaining in the game, Person fouled Devane Brewster. The shot by Brewster was good, and he hit the free throw to make the score 37-34.
With 1:47 left, Brewster was fouled again. He missed the free throw, but Brock pulled down the rebound and made the shot to make it 37-36.
Ragland had a steal with 1:22 remaining, Brock got the ball and made the shot with 1:18 to give Ragland its first lead of the game at 38-37.
Brock then fouled out with 1:05 left. Brantley hit a free throw to tie the game at 38-38.
The Bulldogs played for the final shot, but Person missed it to send the game into overtime.
In the overtime period, there was no scoring until Devane Brewster hit a shot and was fouled with 2:20 left. He missed the free throw, but Ragland was up 40-38. After a bucket by Brantley, Jaylen Brewster nailed a trey with 2:03 left to give Ragland a 43-40 lead.
The game was tied at 45-45 with less than a minute remaining.
Person hit two free throws to give Brantley a 47-45 lead. Lindsay hit a short jumper with 35 seconds left to tie the game at 47-47. Brantley held the ball for the last shot, and Person was fouled with 2.4 seconds remaining. He made both to make it 49-47.
Ragland tried a long pass on the inbound, but it turned into a turnover. The final score was 49-47.
Eden said he was very proud of how his team played in the second half.
“I think we were nervous to start the game,” Eden said. “There was a lot of adrenaline flowing, and it just didn’t go smooth for us. Our guys did not give up in the second half, and kept fighting, and sent the game into overtime.”
Person led all scorers with 25 points.
Brock led Ragland with 15 points. He also grabbed 10 rebounds. Jones finished the game with 12 points while Lindsay added 10 points. Devane Brewster scored five points. Jaylen Brewster netted three points, and Jacob Brewster had two points.
The loss came a few days after a regional championship victory at Jacksonville State University.
Ragland 64, Skyline 59
To get to Birmingham and the Final Four, the Purple Devils had to get past Skyline, and they did – with their defensive play.
Ragland turned the ball over just five times, but caused Skyline to turn the ball over 19 times, which led to 18 points for the Purple Devils, and a 64-59 victory.
Ragland had 13 steals to just one for Skyline. The game was tied eight times, and it had 12 lead changes.
Cody Jones scored 15 of his game-high 37 points in the fourth quarter to help lead the Purple Devils to the victory.
Ragland held a 14-13 lead after the first quarter, and with both teams scoring 15 points in the second frame, the Purple Devils still held a 29-28 lead at halftime.
With Skyline winning the scoring battle in the third stanza 13-12, the game was knotted at 41-41 headed into an exciting finish.
Ragland scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to take a 48-41 lead, but three and a half minutes later, Skyline had cut the Ragland lead down to one at 51-50.
Trailing 62-59 with 12 seconds remaining, Skyline played for the final tying shot with a three-pointer in hopes of sending the game into overtime. They never got a shot off as Brock stole the ball near half court with four seconds remaining, passed ahead to Jones who slammed the basketball home with a dunk as the buzzer sounded, and giving the Purple Devils a 64-59 win.
Also scoring for Ragland were Brock and Lindsay with nine points each. Jacob Brewster finished the game with five points while Jaylen Brewster and Dakota Gardner chipped in two points each. Jones recorded a double-double as he grabbed 10 rebounds.
Coach Andy Eden said it was a very hard-fought game, and they were very fortunate to win.
“Once we finally started attacking the basket a little against their defense, things became better for us,” Eden said. “Guarding their big man (Jacob Walker) was trouble for us. With our size, it was something we have dealt with all year. In the end I was proud of our guys. We made the shots we had to make and got the steals we had to have to win the game.”
Walker finished the game with 24 points and 21 rebounds.
Eden said his guys were trying to hit the three-pointer too much in the first half, and it was not falling. Ragland was 2-for-11 from beyond the arc in the first half, and only attempted one trey in the second half.
After the game, Brock said he wanted to do something his brothers never got a chance to do, and that was play in the Final Four.
“None of us have any rings either,” Brock said. “All the girls got all the rings back at our school.”
Brock is referring to the four state softball titles the Lady Purple Devils have earned since 2004, and the last three in a row.
“Our girls’ basketball team made it to the Final Four the past two years, and I do believe it was in 1991 or 1992 the last time the boys’ basketball team advanced this far,” Eden said.
Ragland finished the season with a record of 28-7.