The last time the Ragland Purple Devils won the St. Clair County Basketball Tournament, a large majority of the present day Purple Devil players had yet to be born.
Ragland head coach Andy Eden said it had been 16 years since the Purple Devils played in a title game, and 17 years since they had won a championship.
Last Saturday, Ragland defeated Ashville 53-48 to win the county crown and break the drought.
SCCHS 48, Springville 46
In a game that went down to the wire, the Saints held on to edge Springville 48-46.
St. Clair opened the game on a 4-1 run, and stretched its lead to 9-3 with 3:23 remaining in the opening quarter. Springville’s Jalane Ramsey hit a trey at the buzzer to pull the Tigers to within one at 12-11.
A technical foul called on St. Clair gave Springville its first lead of the game at 16-15 as Alex Conwell sank two free throws. But SCCHS’s Markett Clark drilled a trey to make it 18-16 St. Clair. By halftime, the Saints were on top by one, 23-22. A trey by Jason Swope with 6:20 left in the third quarter tied the game at 25-25.
But St. Clair held a 36-32 lead headed into the final quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, SCCHS’s Deshawn Williams hit a three-pointer giving the Saints a 39-32 lead, but the Tigers would not go away. Over the next 1:12, Springville went on a 5-0 run. The key shot was a trey by Ramsey as Springville closed the gap to 39-37.
Leading 41-40, the Saints went on a 5-0 run of their own to make it 46-40. But with 11 seconds remaining in the game, Springville’s Swope hit a bucket to make it 48-46. That turned out to be the final score.
Leading SCCHS was Matt Hicks with 23 points. Markett Clark added eight points while Josh Hardrick pumped in seven points. Williams and Juan Montgomery netted four points each.
Leading Springville was Ramsey with 17 points, including five treys. Conwell and Swope pumped in nine points each while Deondre Woody added six points. John David Nolan and Jay Lipscomb chipped in two points each while Isaiah Benson had one point.
Ashville 45, SCCHS 44
In a thriller from start to finish, the Ashville Bulldogs advanced to the championship game with a 45-44 victory over the Saints.
The Bulldogs started the game on a 7-1 run. By the time the first quarter ended, the Saints were back in the game and trailed by only three at 10-7. The second quarter belonged to the Saints as they outscored Ashville 20-9 to open up a 27-19 halftime lead.
With 5:25 remaining in the third quarter, St. Clair had opened up a double-digit lead at 31-21. Over the next four minutes, Ashville outscored SCCHS 15-6 to pull within one point at 37-36. Headed into the final quarter, St. Clair’s lead was 40-36.
With four minutes remaining, Ashville’s William Johnson hit a lay-up to tie the game at 42-42. Then, Dee Weeks hit a shot that gave the Bulldogs a 44-42 lead.
The game was tied 44-44 with 1:11 remaining. It stayed that way until the final seconds.
With nine seconds left, Johnson went up for a shot and he was fouled. He was injured on the play with a cramp, and had to come out of the game. Parker Wadsworth replaced him and went to the free throw line. He missed the first free throw, but calmly hit the second, giving the Bulldogs a 45-44 lead.
Following a timeout, the Saints played for a game-winning shot, but Josh Hardrick’s shot at the buzzer did not fall as Ashville held on for the 45-44 victory.
Leading Ashville was Johnson with 12 points. Ray Harris netted 10 points while Damien Bothwell and Alex Looney had seven points each. E. J. Moss added four points while Ethan Fuller and Weeks had two points. Wadsworth scored only one point — but it was the game winner.
For St. Clair, Hicks scored 14 points to lead all scorers. Juan Montgomery added 11 points while Dalton Payton netted eight points. Hardrick added five points while Watkins had four points. Markett Clark finished the game with two points.
Ragland 53, Moody 36
The Purple Devils advanced to take on the Bulldogs in the finals with a 53-36 victory over Moody.
Ragland took an early 3-0 lead, but Moody went on a 7-0 run to take a 7-3 lead with 2:18 left in the first quarter the Purple Devils ended the quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 13-9 lead into the second quarter. Ragland also won the scoring battle in the second stanza 14-8 to open up a 27-17 halftime lead.
The dominance by Andy Eden’s team continued on the third period as they outscored Moody 15-6 to take a commanding 42-23 lead. The final score was 53-36.
Leading Ragland to victory was Cody Jones with 18 points. Jimmy Brock pumped in 10 points while KiJana Lindsay added nine points. Jacob Brewster and Dakota Gardner scored seven points each while Jackson Sanders scored two points.
Leading Moody was Josh Daniel with 12 points. DQ Swann and Tevin Paul pumped in nine points each while Noah Graham and Myles Webster netted two points each.
Ragland 53, Ashville 48
The only championship game Ashville did not win was the varsity boys as Ragland ended a 17-year streak, beating the Bulldogs 53-48. Neither team had a lead larger than six points.
The Purple Devils were up 14-11 after the first quarter. A three-pointer by Ashville’s Harris gave the Bulldogs a 17-16 lead.
Ragland then went on an 11-4 run to open up a 27-21 lead with 1:46 left in the second quarter. By halftime, Ragland’s lead was 31-26.
The third quarter was back and forth with Ragland winning the scoring battle 11-10 to take a 42-36 lead into the fourth quarter. Ashville cut into the Ragland lead, and was within one at 44-43 with 4:17 left in the game.
Brock then put the game on his shoulders in the final 1:36. He put back a missed shot to give the Purple Devils a 48-45 lead. Brock then rebounded a missed shot by Ashville. Brock was fouled on the next possession, and he hit two free throws to give the Purple Devils a 50-45 lead. With 31 seconds remaining, Brock hit another free throw to make it 51-46.
They went on to win the game 53-48.
Leading Ragland to victory was Jones with 22 points. Lindsay pumped in 11 points while Brock finished with nine points. Devane Brewster scored five points while Jaylen Brewster added four points. Jacob Brewster had two points.
Leading Ashville was Moss with 17 points. Harris pumped in 11 points while Marcellus Brown added six points. Johnson contributed five points while Alex Looney netted three points. Jordan Looey, Fuller and Weeks had two points each.
Making the All-County Tournament Team included MVP Cody Jones from Ragland, along with his teammates KiJana Lindsay, Jimmy Brock and Devane Brewster; Ray Harris, William Johnson and E.J. Moss from Ashville; Matt Hicks and Juan Montgomery from SCCHS; Josh Daniel and D.Q. Swann from Moody; and Jalane Ramsey from Springville.