Boaz tops Southside to reach 5A, Area 10 title tilt


Boaz’s Casey Wood shoots against Southside during Friday’s game. (Photo by Dave Hyatt | Gadsden Times)


SOUTHSIDE — The Boaz boys high school basketball team proved Friday night what their coach Jeremiah Patterson believed all along.

The Pirates never trailed and held off top-seeded Southside the whole game in a 48-45 victory in the semifinals of the Class 5A, Area 10 boys high school basketball tournament.

“I didn’t feel like we were a four seed and I think we showed that tonight,” Patterson said. “We earned the seed because we were 2-4 in the area, but I felt like we were better than 2-4. Our season went well, but our area record didn’t show it. It was an awesome win for Boaz basketball.”

The tense, tight fourth quarter began with the Pirates (16-10) up 39-34. Chris Leonhardt opened the quarter with a 3-pointer for the Panthers to quickly cut it to 39-37. After a Zakk Nation basket for Boaz, Leonhardt hit another trey to cut the deficit to 41-40 with 5:03 left in the game. Leonhardt’s 15 points for the game led all players.

Nation responded with another basket, and after Southside scored, Nation stepped up yet again, nailing a jumper to push the lead back to three, 45-42. Both teams hit a cold spell before Chase Brown sank a pair of free throws for the Pirates that pushed the margin to five with 20 seconds remaining.

Kyle Mann’s 3-pointer closed the gap to 47-45 with 12 seconds to play before a foul put Casey Wood at the free-throw line, where he converted both shots. After a timeout, Mann took a 3-pointer for the tie, but the shot bounced off the rim, sealing the Pirates’ win and advancing Boaz to Monday’s championship game against Fort Payne at 7 p.m.

“We couldn’t put them away because of the three-ball by 22 (Leonhardt),” Patterson said. “He just kept putting them in. Both teams fought like crazy. It was a heck of a game.”

Boaz seemingly couldn’t miss in the first quarter. The Pirates jumped out to an 18-6 lead with Brown scoring 10 of his 12 points in the quarter. Southside got a 3-pointer from Drew Mullinax and a layup from Saige Benson late to cut it to 18-11 entering the second quarter.

“Our guys got a great start. I felt like our guys executed the plan to perfection in the first quarter and got them out of the defense they wanted to play,” Patterson said.

The Panthers, who finished their season 17-9, slowly eroded the deficit in the second quarter.

After Nation scored to push Boaz’s lead to 26-17, Mullinax and Leonhardt hit back-to-back threes late to trail 26-23 at the break.

Neither team sustained momentum in the third quarter. The Pirates led 39-31 late, before Mann’s 3-pointer made it a five-point game entering final quarter.

Nation scored 12 points and Cameron Whitt had 11 for Boaz.

Mullinax finished with 10 points, all in the first half, and Hunter Bellew scored seven points for Southside.