Stanhope Elmore falters in area finals

Caleb Turrentine / The Herald

Stanhope’s C.J. Wright (14) was named to the all-tournament team after leading the Mustangs in scoring in both games.

Stanhope Elmore needed one more defensive stop Friday night to secure its first area championship in more than a decade. It appeared the Mustangs got the stop when a Selma 3-pointer hit off the rim but the ref whistled C.J. Wright for a shooting foul with seven seconds to go.

Selma’s Jarvis Moss knocked down all three free throws and Wright could not connect on a last-second layup. The Saints won the game 50-49 and secured the right to host a sub-regional game Tuesday night.

“I thought it was good effort,” Stanhope coach Terry Hardy said. “I don’t know if we fouled him there but it may just be too close to take a chance there. I think it was probably a foul on our end that we didn’t get but that’s the way the ball bounces sometimes.”

The Mustangs faced their biggest deficit of the game with 4:10 to go, trailing 44-40 after a 3-point play from the Saints. Trey Hardy responded with a quick 3-pointer which was followed up by baskets from Jahsan Upshaw and Blake Durham as Stanhope took a one-point lead with two minutes to go.

After a free throw from the Saints tied the game, Upshaw found Hardy on a backdoor cut for a layup with 1:02 to go to take a 49-47 lead. The teams traded turnovers before the Mustangs missed the front end of a 1-and-1, setting up the game winning foul shots for the Saints.

“We had an opportunity to win but they made one extra play than we did,” Terry Hardy said. “The kid stepped up and made some big free throws. My boys played hard and we have no regrets with how we played. They did everything I asked them to do, we just came up short.”

The Mustangs struggled from the free-throw line all game, shooting 13 of 27 from the line. The team’s 10-point fourth quarter was its lowest scoring quarter of the game.

Wright scored six of his 10 points in the third quarter but was held scoreless in the final frame. Despite the tough finish to the game, Terry Hardy said Wright will shake it off and be ready for the next round.

“He’s a tough kid but he is a kid so I will say something to him,” Terry Hardy said. “He’ll bounce back because he’s a strong-minded player. He’s a competitor so he’ll be fine.”

Blake Durham also scored 10 points for the Mustangs with all of them coming in the second half. After turning the ball over five times in the first half, Durham upped his game on both sides of the court and got a steal and block in the final minute to help keep Stanhope in front.

“He’s still young,” Terry Hardy said. “We forget he’s just a sophomore still but that’s kind of what we expect from him. He’s picking it up when it matters. He’s going to be big for this team and this program.”

Trey Hardy scored all nine of his points in the second half, knocking down the team’s only 3-pointer in the final two quarters. Point guard Teddy Harris packed the stat sheet, finishing with five points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Stanhope still secured a spot in the sub-regional with its overtime win over Wetumpka in the first round of the area tournament. The Mustangs hit the road Tuesday night to face Paul Bryant in Tuscaloosa.

“We have to shake this one off,” Terry Hardy said. “It’s more mental than anything else right now. We’re not going to change or be a different team on Tuesday. We have to go on the road and steal one. We have to play whether we’re at home or on the road.”

Stanhope girls have tough defeat at Selma

The Stanhope Elmore girls basketball team had its biggest defeat of the season at the worst time Friday night. The Lady Mustangs struggled to find success on offense and lost in the Class 6A Area 5 championship 72-20 at Selma.

“Selma is always tough to play at Selma,” Stanhope coach Kelvin Stokes said. “They’re very athletic and very fast; we knew we would have some trouble. We couldn’t hit shots early and got behind so it was tough to keep our composure and get back. It was just a tough game tonight.”

The Mustangs were held without a field goal in the first quarter, falling behind 20-3 after eight minutes of play. Brooke Burkett scored her first two points of the game on a floater just 14 seconds into the fourth quarter but the Saints responded with a 14-0 run to put the game out of reach early.

Burkett, who scored 20 points in the first-round win over Wetumpka, was called for three offensive fouls in the first quarter and could not find a rhythm on the offense. When Burkett had to be subbed out, Stanhope’s offense struggled with keeping possession which led to easy baskets for Selma.

“Against Wetumpka, (Burkett) was really aggressive,” Stokes said. “Selma was able to put a big guard on her and met her at half court most of the time. When Brooke can get low, she can get some things going but that high pressure can bother her sometimes. She’s only a sophomore so she’s got to get some help.”

Alisson Evans led the team with just four points in the first half. She also added six rebounds and three blocks but the Mustangs trailed by 32 points at the break.

Kaleiah Hollis finished the game with a team-high eight points and knocked down the lone 3-pointer of the night for the Mustangs. Burkett had just two points and two assists before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

“We have to regroup and look forward to the next one,” Stokes said. “We have an opportunity for one more. We’ve been here before and we’ve had tough losses but we bounced back. We just have to learn from it and grow from it and move forward.”

Selma made nine 3-pointers during the game and forced the Mustangs into 28 turnovers. It was the third consecutive season Stanhope fell to Selma in the area tournament.

Despite the big loss on Friday, the Mustangs are staying positive about their season. The team has still won four of its last six games and secured a spot in the sub-regional round with a win over rival Wetumpka.

“At this point in the season, you just have to find that want to keep the season alive,” Stokes said. “If we can get some shots to fall and grow up a little mentally, we’re going to be okay.”

The Mustangs traveled to Tuscaloosa on Monday night to face Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa.

“It’s still great for our team and our school,” Stokes said. “We’re still young and every game is a learning process. A lot of teams are done but we still had an opportunity to practice and play again. We have an opportunity to get better.”