Sonoraville found themselves on the wrong end of the scoreboard late in the fourth quarter on Saturday night vs. LaFayette in the Region 6-AAA Championship Game, but they weren’t going down without a fight on their home court.
The Phoenix battled all the way buck to cut the LaFayette lead to two with just over a minute left, but it was the Ramblers that made just a few more plays down the stretch to seal a 58-48 victory and the 6-AAA title.
Sonoraville (20-4) trailed 43-37 at the end of the third quarter and by as many as eight early in the fourth but rallied all the way back to within two at 50-48 on a free throw by Murray Somers with 1:17 to play. That was as close as they got, however, as LaFayette (20-1) sealed the game with six clutch free throws and a transition lay-up in the final minute-plus to send the Phoenix to a disheartening runner-up finish.
“(LaFayette) is really talented, and we knew we were going to have to play well to give ourselves a chance,” said Sonoraville head coach Brent Mashburn. “But I never have a doubt what kind of effort I’m going to get from my group every single time we play. You know what you’re going to get from these guys, and that’s why they are such a great group to coach. They played their butts off and fought for every possession all the way to the end, but we just needed to make one or two more plays to get over the hump. It just wasn’t our night. LaFayette made just a few more plays than we did, and that was the difference in the ballgame.”
Sonoraville got off to a great start on Saturday night as they put together two separate 9-0 runs in the first quarter to take a 20-8 lead over the Ramblers into the second. The Ramblers responded in the second period by outscoring the Phoenix 17-7 to cut the deficit to 27-25 at the half.
The teams battled back and forth in the third quarter, but an 11-4 run to finish the period by LaFayette gave them a 43-37 advantage heading into the final quarter.
“This group of guys only knows one way to play, and that’s wide open all the time,” said Mashburn of his team’s tenacity. “I knew I would get that out of them tonight. Even on a big stage like this, they were going to play the same way they always do. We just needed to catch a few breaks. That’s what happens when you get two good teams together. Tonight it was them.”
DeCameron Porter led the Ramblers with 26 points, including eight in the final quarter to help close out the win. Aidan Hadaway also had a solid night with 20 points with nine coming in the third quarter to play a role in giving LaFayette a lead they never relinquished. Junior Barber also scored seven.
Orry Darnell played a huge part in keeping Sonoraville in the game as he put his team on his back with a game-high 28 points. The senior guard had several big buckets and was 3-for-3 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to help the Phoenix battle back.
Somers and Garrison Mullins each added six points for the Phoenix.
Despite the loss, the Phoenix will still host a first-round game in the Class AAA State Tournament as they will enter as the No. 2 seed from 6-AAA and host Cherokee Bluff, the Region 7-AAA No. 3 seed, with a day and time to be announced. Sonoraville will be looking for their first-ever state tournament win.
“That’s what we talked about in the locker room after the game tonight…We still have a great opportunity in front of us even though things didn’t turn out the way we wanted them to tonight,” said Mashburn. “That’s a result of the hard work these guys have put in. Our team, and especially our seniors, are deserving of getting a chance to play one more game in here in our home gym. We had a great crowd tonight, and we expect another one in the first round. Our fans are great. They support us and the girls. Hopefully we can give them one more win to cheer about this week.”
Region champion LaFayette will enter the Class AAA State Tournament as the No. 1 seed and host Region 7-AAA No. 4 seed North Hall in the first round with a time and day to be announced.
LaFayette Boys 58, Sonoraville 48
Barrett 2, Barber 7, Ramsey 3, Porter 26, Hadaway 20
Morrison 4, Darnell 28, King 2, Somers 6, Mullins 6, Bryant 2
LaF. 8 17 18 15—58
Son. 20 7 10 11—48
3-pointers – LaFayette 5 (Porter 3, Barber 1, Hadaway 1); Sonoraville 2 (Darnell 2), Free Throws – LaFayette 10-17; Sonoraville 10-14, Records –Sonoraville 20-4.