Warriors go 2-1 in 3A-3 District Tournament, qualify for regional

Tuesday, February 20, 2007
EPC's Teejay Huggins attempts to get the ball around a Blue Devil in their loss to Hughes last Thursday night at Manila. (Tribune photo/Dan Brawner)

Tribune Sports Staff

There were probably some mixed emotions in the EPC camp when they found out they were going to be playing Brookland last Monday in the opening round of the 3A-3 District Tournament in Manila. The reason was that the Warriors had just played the Bearcats at Lepanto little more than a week before in their final regular season game, losing to their eventual first round tournament opponents 76-73.

The familiarity with Brookland, however, apparently aided the Warriors more than the Bearcats as they won the tournament rematch by a convincing 78-69.

"It was a good win," coach Josh Hall said the Tuesday after the game. "We've really started playing together and that game showed it."

EPC (9-16) went into the game hoping to hold down Corey Cope who had hit for 31 points in the season-ender. They were unable to do this, though, as Cope was even more productive Monday night, scoring 35 including 16 of 20 free throws.

His prowess wasn't enough, however, as the Warriors had a scoring field day of their own with eight players hitting for points, four of them in double figures. Leading the way was Justin Parnell who finished with 19, his first three buckets hit from outside the circle.

His scoring helped EPC to take a 15-13 lead into the second period. Cope came alive just before the half, though, and the Bearcats took a 37-36 lead into the locker room.

The third period was the Warriors chance to come alive, though, as they came out and outscored Brookland 21-12 to take a 10-point 58-48 lead into the final stanza.

Any rally the Bearcats hoped for, though, fell short as EPC matched them point-for-point for the 78-69 victory.

Following Parnell in points were Justin Williams with 15, Charles Stover and Chris Davis with 10 each, Brett Hardin nine, Brian Branch seven, Troy Hull six and T.J. Huggins two.

For Brookland, Roy Akin and Bobby Swan joined Cope in hitting for double figures with 13 and 11 points respectively.

The victory put the Warriors into the second round against Hoxie. The prize for winning that game was a spot in the regional tournament.

Warriors 63, Mustangs 49

The Warriors scored the first bucket of the game against Hoxie on Tuesday night in the second round of the 3A-3 District Tournament. However, they could manage only one more basket in the next 4:00 as the Mustangs surged out to a 13-4 lead, looking as if they may put EPC out of the running for a regional spot early.

Those 13 points ended Hoxie's scoring in the first period, though, while the Warriors came alive, pumping in 11 unanswered points in the last half of the opening quarter. The recovery, effectively gave the Warriors a shot in the arm which they needed to match the Mustang's second quarter attempted rally.

The result was a 15-all dead heat to put the teams into the break with EPC hold a tenuous 30-28 lead.

The third made the situation even more uneasy for the goodly number of Warrior faithful in attendance as Hoxie gained back a point to make them just one point shy of a tie 42-41 going into the final and deciding period.

Hoxie then took a brief lead, 43-42, with their first shot of the fourth, but then lost it and gained it back three times over the next 3:00. At the 5:00 mark they saw their final lead, 48-47, evaporate as the Warriors broke and hobbled the Mustangs with a 16-1, game ending run.

Parnell once again led the Warriors with 13 points while Williams and Davis had 11 apiece. Following their effort was Huggins and Hardin who hit for nine each, Hull four, Stover, Branch two and Bucky Chamberlin one.

Ray Volner led the Mustangs with 21 while Stockler had 10.

The victory put the Warriors into the Region 3 tournament at Bergman. Unfortunately, it also put them into the semi-final game against 3A-3 #1 seed and undefeated Hughes last Thursday night.

Blue Devils 70, Warriors 42

"I was disappointed that we didn't compete like I know we can," Hill said after the Blue Devils put on their scoring show at his team's expense. "We worked on reducing turnovers and increasing our rebounds in practice and we got killed in both areas."

One bright spot in the game was the opening bucket by Huggins which gave EPC their only lead of the game at 2-0. It was little consolation as the much taller, on average, Blue Devils began pouring in point after point to take a 22-11 lead after the first quarter.

The second period saw the Warriors make a charge, though as they cut the lead to seven, 29-22, with just 2:00 left in the half. Those final 120 seconds belonged to Hughes, though, as they closed out the half with a 36-22 lead. The final two points came on a crowd-pleasing slam dunk by the game's point leader (25) Kevin Brown.

Showing the height and prowess, the dunk was one of five on the night by both Brown and Michael Darnell who finished with 11 points.

The third period was mostly defensive as the Blue Devils hit the 50-point mark with a relatively close, 12-9 performance. The fourth period, however, was virtually all Hughes as they took a 70-38 lead before both teams turned the game over to the respective benches, EPC scoring the final four points.

"They are just a very good team," Hill said about the Blue Devils.

Stover led the Warriors with 12 points while Davis hit for eight, Huggins and Parnell six each, Williams five, Hull three and Zac Brown two.

Kedrick Smith (13) and Cordeo Thorton (10) joined Brown and Darnell in scoring double figures for the Blue Devils.

"We just simply had too many turnovers," Hill concluded. "Stover and Williams played really good games. We're going to need good games from everyone in the regional."

The Warriors, a #4 seed, were scheduled to play Valley Springs, winner of the 3A-1E tournament, at 5:30 p.m. today (Wednesdy) in the first round of the 3A Region 3 Tournament at Bergman.

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