Robertson leads Hokes Bluff past Jacksonville 43-41


Hokes Bluff’s Brad Robertson shoots against Jacksonville during Monday night’s game. (Photo by Marc Golden | Gadsden Times)


HOKES BLUFF — Senior Brad Robertson came through in the clutch for Hokes Bluff and the Eagles defeated Jacksonville 43-41 to win an area tournament championship Monday night.

Robertson, who didn’t score in the first three quarters, finished with 13 points in the fourth. None were bigger than the game’s final two with 14.9 seconds remaining that gave the Eagles (20-9) the Class 4A, Area 11 tournament title.

He calmly sank two free-throws.

That’s what seniors who’ve been in those game-type situations do.

“It’s unbelievable,” the Eagles’ point guard said. “I’ve been there before, so I kind of knew.”

Robertson, who led the Eagles in scoring, got his first basket on a layup with 7:07 showing in the fourth quarter. The basket was the first one  of the quarter and trimmed the Golden Eagles’ lead to 32-25. Robertson’s final two points were among six he converted at free-throw line down the stretch.

“He was deadly from the free-throw line and that’s the difference in the game,” Hokes Bluff coach Greg Watkins said.

Spurred by the play of Des Curry’s 10 points in the first half, Jacksonville (14-13) led 11-10 after the opening quarter and 19-16 at the break. Robertson went to the bench with two fouls halfway through the second quarter.

“That was a bummer because they were trapping, and I needed to be in the game to help my teammates get involved,” Robertson said.

He didn’t change his style of play in the second half and sparked the Eagle rally that followed Watkins' game plan of keeping the score close and winning in the final eight minutes.

Hokes Bluff overcame a night of turnovers — 10 in the first half  and 13 at the end of the third quarter — by pressuring Jacksonville in the second half with a man-to-man defense when the Golden Eagles tried to slow down the game with a stall offense with under two minutes to play and leading 39-38.

Curry had two free-throws that pushed the lead to 41-38 with 46.2 seconds on the clock, but Matthew Watkins’ 3-pointer from the top of the key tied the game with 32.6 seconds showing before Robertson went to the line his final time.

A jumper from Curry missed and Dakota Doss’ putback was off the mark at the buzzer.

Jacksonville keyed from the start on Hokes Bluff’s 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas, limiting his playing time in the first half along with allowing him only four points. Haas had four blocks in the first half.

That certainly wasn’t unexpected by the Hoke Bluff coaching staff.

“He’s seen a little bit of everything this year. He handles it. Sometimes he gets frustrated but he’s a big guy and he draws big fouls,” Watkins said. “They had a good scheme against him. But, when they pulled the ball out and we went straight man, our guys put the pressure up a little bit. I just felt like in that situation, pressing and a man defense — it was a difference in the game and when we got steals and we got fouled, we did what you’re supposed to do to win a game like this. You hit free throws.”

Curry finished with 21 points to lead Jacksonville. Sid Thurmond had 11.

Haas finished with seven points for Hokes Bluff. Jake Ingram, who led the Eagles with five at halftime, finished with seven, as did Watkins. Tanner Shields had five points.

Hokes Bluff hosts  Munford on Friday in the sub-region round of the playoffs. The winner advances to the Northeast Regional tournament at Jacksonville State University.