Tigers fall to Hillcrest in overtime in Sweet 16

Published 12:59 pm Thursday, February 16, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

The Chilton County High School varsity boy’s basketball team lost an overtime thriller 52-50 to Hillcrest High School in the AHSAA Class 6A Sweet 16. The Tigers were down by as many as 14 points in the game, and fought back to have a chance to win the game at the end of regulation.

“This is a special group, and they have played with me since they were 10th graders,” CCHS coach Austin Moncus said. “It was a tough way to go out, and they played their hearts out. We just kept fighting and had a great look to end the game … It is heartbreaking.”

Hillcrest led 45-40 with four minutes left when the Tigers Latavion Floyd put in a layup to cut the lead down to three points. Floyd had 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting and eight rebounds.

Senior Jamon Dejarnett converted a layup to make it a two-point game with two minutes left, the closest CCHS has been since the first quarter. Fellow senior Jakeveon Bolding made a steal and took it the length of the court to tie the game, and senior Demarcus Riddick had a steal and a dunk to give CCHS their first lead since it was 2-0.

Bolding had 15 points and eight rebounds in the game.

Hillcrest tied the game up at 48 with 22 seconds left, giving Riddick a chance to end the game on the last possession, but the shot rimmed out at the final buzzer. Floyd hit a layup to open the scoring in overtime, but Hillcrest scored the game’s final four points to take the two-point win.

“The kids worked so hard, and they have done everything we asked them to do as a coaching staff,” Moncus said. “Sometimes life is not fair, and I felt like we deserved it, but you do not always get the things you deserve. We will use it as a life coaching point, keep your head up and keep on going.”

The season yielded the Tigers 20 wins for the second consecutive season, and the Sweet 16 appearance is the furthest Moncus and CCHS have gone in his four years coaching at the school.

Bolding got CCHS on the board first with a put back off an offensive rebound to open the game’s scoring. However, the rest of the quarter would be all Hillcrest building a 14-7 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

The Patriots carried their momentum into the second quarter with a 7-0 run to stretch its lead to 21-7, its largest of the first half. Senior Jakobe Worthy put in a floater to halt the run midway through the quarter, and the Tigers trailed by 12 with two minutes left until halftime.

Worthy had 10 points and five assists.

Then, Dermarrion Caffey took over in the last minute of the first half for CCHS. Caffey knocked down a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left. After a Hillcrest turnover forced by Dejarnett, Caffey picked up the ball and hit an and-one layup plus the free throw to send CCHS into the break trailing 26-19.

The Tigers shot 21% from the floor in the first quarter, but improved that to 45% in the second quarter to bring back within reach. CCHS was 1-for-9 on 3-pointers in the first half.

“We try to have a grittiness about us, and they punched us in the mouth early, and our guys responded well,” Moncus said. “(Hillcrest) has a great team, and they played really well.”

Down 26-19 at halftime, CCHS got it down to 41-35 after the third quarter and Bolding’s layup with seven minutes left in the game got it to a three-point game.

“I am proud of our kids, I am proud of our program, and I appreciate the community coming out,” Moncus said. “It says a lot about them and the support they showed for the kids and the program.”

CCHS finishes the season 20-13.