Calhoun County’s Vincent Powell, left, puts up a shot over the defense of Seminole County’s Alex Koonce during the quarterfinals of the Region 1-A tournament Wednesday in Pelham. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CAMILLA — The clock struck midnight a little early for the kids at Seminole County, the ones who had flipped their season around and had stormed into the Region 1-A tournament, riding a wave of inspiration and wearing a glass slipper.
Call them Seminole-rella.
After an uneven season, the Indians won five in a row before running right smack into the top team in Region 1-A on Wednesday in the Mitchell County gym, where Calhoun County — The No. 5 team in The Herald’s Fab 5 Poll and only Class A team in the poll — ended their season with a gritty 69-64 win.
“Our magic kind of ran out a little bit,’’ Seminole County coach Kevin Godwin said. “We were on a high coming into the tournament, really on a roll. But we kind of lost our silver slipper — or whatever Cinderella wears.’’
Still, Seminole-rella scared the life out of Calhoun before seeing the season end in the second round game of the Region 1-A tournament.
“We escaped,’’ said Calhoun County coach Marcus Shaw, whose team will meet Pelham in the semifinals at 4 p.m. on Friday in the Pelham gym. The win assures Calhoun County a berth in the Class A State Tournament.
That’s where Seminole, which ends with a 10-16 record, was hoping on landing. The Indians, who beat Quitman County, 47-41, on Tuesday just to get to Wednesday’s game, fell just short.
“We were playing well, and we came in with a lot of confidence,’’ Godwin said. “We were confident we could win the game.’’
It showed. Seminole burned down the nets in the first quarter, busting looses with five 3-pointers and scoring 27 points. Jamarcus Gray scored eight points in the first three minutes of the game. Robert Speights, who finished with 23 points, and John Hudson each scored five in the first eight minutes. Seminole grabbed 8-2 and 11-3 leads before Calhoun’s Cougars knew what hit them, and trailed, 27-18, after one.
But the Cougars (19-5) struck back with one of the best weapons in the game — a defense that forced 31 turnovers, including 14 in the first half.
“The turnovers killed us,’’ Godwin said. “We didn’t handle their pressure. You can’t have that many turnovers against a good team like that.’’
Calhoun (19-5) turned up the heat and Vincent Powell and Marquez Williams, two high-flying, quick-silver guards took over. Powell dropped in 20, including three crowd-jarring dunks on breakaways after steals, and Williams poured it on from the outside, where he scored 23 points, including 14 in the second half.
Seminole scored just eight points in the second quarter and didn’t score from the floor until there was 1:15 left in the half, but still led, 35-32, at halftime. Calhoun took the lead with a 12-2 run to open the second half and went up 44-37 with 3:01 left in the third on a two-fisted dunk by Powell. Calhoun forced 14 turnovers in the third and took over the game.
After scoring 27 in the first, Seminole scored just 17 points in the next two quarters, and trailed, 48-44, heading into the fourth. But it stayed with Calhoun and kept the game close, thanks to Speights, who scored 12 fourth-quarter points. Jakari Martin, who scored 27 points on Tuesday, was held to two points. Gray finished with 13 and Hudson scored 10.
“We played hard, but we just couldn’t pull away from them,’’ Shaw said. “Coach Godwin does a great job at Seminole, and they played a great game, but our effort has to be better when we play on Friday. I think we will rebound.’’
Powell and Williams said the difference in the game came after they heard a Seminole player talking about wining the game.
“We were at the free throw line in the third quarter and he said, ‘We’re going to kill them,’ ” Powell said. “(Williams) looked at me and said. ‘Let’s go. Let’s put them away.’
“We were mad. The whole team was mad. We want to win it all.’’
RANDOLPH-CLAY 53, MILLER COUNTY 50: There may not be anyone who can stop Herald Super 6er Shaquille Nunnally, who opened his postseason with a statement game.
“This is my senior year,’’ Nunnally said. “This is my only chance, my last chance.’’
And to remember.
Nunnally scored 27 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had seven steals and three blocked shots to lead the Red Devils past a tough Miller County team in the second round of the Region 1-A tournament at Mitchell County on Wednesday. Randolph-Clay (16-10) now faces Mitchell County at Pelham in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday.
“I’ll take him against anyone,’’ Randolph-Clay coach Oglesby Jackson said. “He had a great game. My hat’s off to Miller County. They are a scrappy team. If they would have made that last 3-pointer we would have been in overtime.’’
Miller County (7-14) was led by Jacolby Jacobs, who scored 12 and launched the final 3 at the buzzer that skipped away and ended the game.
“There are tough games, but we made it tough on ourselves,’’ said Jackson, whose team led wire-to-wire. “We’re glad to get the win.’’
MITCHELL COUNTY 72, STEWART COUNTY 59: The Eagles had to come back to advance to Friday’s Region 1-A semifinal game against Randolph-Clay. They trailed 50-46 as they entered the fourth quarter, but ripped Stewart, 22-9 on their home court to put the game away.
Stacey Butler scored nine of his 14 points in the fourth to ignite Mitchell County (17-9), which was the No. 1 seed in the south end of the region. Jaquan Williams led the Eagles with 15 points. Butler and Williams each made three 3s.