FLORENCE — Deshler’s shots wouldn’t fall and its basketball season was on the ropes.
The Tigers managed four baskets, 10 points and trailed Colbert County by 20 with just more than 3 minutes left in the third quarter of Friday night’s elimination game in the Class 3A, Area 16 tournament boys semifinal.
Then, Chandler Brown decided he didn’t want the Tigers’ season to end.
The Deshler guard scored nine straight points during a momentum-turning run and scored all of his game-high 23 in the final 10 minutes of the game, as the Tigers came back to beat Colbert County 61-45.
Deshler advances to play tournament host Mars Hill, 84-57 winners Friday against Lauderdale County, in the area final Monday at 7:30 p.m. Deshler and Mars Hill both earned sub-regional playoff berths with the wins. The losses ended Colbert County’s and Lauderdale County’s seasons.
“I just felt like I’ve got to keep shooting,” Brown said. “Even though I was missing early, coach told me I had to keep shooting. That’s what I did. I didn’t want our seniors to go out that, so I had to contribute the best I could to keep our team going.”
Colbert County led 30-10 with 3:02 left in the third quarter before Brown’s offensive awakening and a newfound intensity in its pressure defense sparked Deshler.
Brown’s nine straight points started an 18-4 run that pulled Deshler within 34-28 after three quarters.
Brown sank one of his four 3-pointers to make it a 5-point game 2 minutes into the fourth quarter. He then drained a 3 while being fouled on the left wing and sank the ensuing free throw for a 4-point play that tied it at 40 with 4:40 to play.
Drew Cheatum’s layup gave Deshler its first lead of the game at 42-40, and the Tigers led the rest of the way, outscoring the Indians 33-11 in the fourth quarter and making 51 of their 61 points in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Thomas Gamble added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Deshler, and Cheatum had eight rebounds.
Sam Howard finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for Colbert County. Indians post player Tobias Qualls added 11 points and had seven blocked shots while setting the tone in a hesitant-shooting first half for Deshler.
Colbert County led 22-10 at halftime.
“We came out really focused, but we were really tight,” Deshler coach Brian Pounder said. “I knew if we hit one shot, that rim would start opening up. If Chandler gets hot, he can shoot it. We also did a good job in our press making things happen. After that first half, we knew the only change we had was to speed up the game. To come back like that is pretty awesome.”
Mars Hill 84, Lauderdale County 57: Class 3A No. 2 Mars Hill showed no signs of slowing despite starting post player Landon Willis coming off the bench while working his way back from a concussion.
The Panthers scored the game’s first 12 points, got a team-high 23 points from Thomas Swinea and had five scorers reach double digits while cruising to a win in the area tournament semifinals.
Swinea made all three of his 3-point shots, scored 17 points in the first half and worked the ball inside throughout the second.
Drew Newton scored a team-high 27 points for Lauderdale County while making 4 of 9 3-pointers.
Willis, who checked in mid-first quarter, finished with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting. He suffered a scary injury in a win against Sheffield last Saturday.
“A guy went up for a jump shot and came down and hit me in the head,” Willis said, explaining his injury. “It knocked me out for a little bit, and they said I had a seizure when I came back. I feel normal now, but they wanted me to take it a little slower.”
Joe Wilson added 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, Drew Black had 11 and Harrison Chastain scored 10 for Mars Hill.
Lauderdale County pulled within 11 late in the third quarter but got no closer.
Bryan App can be reached at 256-740-5730 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @bappster on Twitter.