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Sand Rock boys take down Titans, 59-56

Sand Rock senior point guard Jacob StClair concentrates on a free-throw attempt in the fourth quarter against Gadsden City on Tuesday night. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

SAND ROCK – As part of his practice routine, Sand Rock senior point guard Jacob StClair shoots 150 free throws every day. He shoots them first thing in the morning before school.

Nights like Tuesday against Class 6A Gadsden City are the reason why.

StClair scored a game-high 25 points and sank 13-of-14 free throws, including 10-of-11 in the fourth quarter and 6-for-6 in the final 28 seconds, to help the Wildcats earn a 59-56 victory over the Titans. It’s the first time in five meetings Sand Rock (2-0) has defeated Gadsden City (1-2) in three years.

“That’s a monkey off our back,” Sand Rock coach John Blackwell said. “I think that’s why the guys were so excited. It’s early in the year, but if we can beat a 6A or 7A team, then we’re happy. That’s good for us to play that speed, that athletic ability, that style of ball.”

As big as beating a bigger school is, it’s just another game as far as StClair is concerned.

“Wins and losses in the beginning really don’t matter. We’re trying to go to the state championship game,” he said. “I’d like to win them all, but the state championship is the main goal.”

The two teams battled to a 12-12 tie by the end of the first quarter. Sand Rock held a 26-22 advantage at halftime and held a 38-32 edge after three quarters. StClair stretched the Wildcat lead out to nine with a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter before the Titans closed the gap with a 7-0 run, capped off with a dunk from Jordan Walker with 5:52 to go, to make it a 41-39 game in Sand Rock’s favor.

From there, the two teams battled down the stretch, with StClair’s free throws proving crucial in the closing moments.

Equally as important was the Wildcat defense and their production down in the post.

“Bradley (Jackson) and Jake (Middlebrooks) are getting a lot of rebounds and are boxing out good,” StClair said. “They can score if we need them to also. I think we’re very well-rounded.”

“We tried to keep them a little off-balance,” Blackwell said. “They’re just so athletic, but I thought we screened out pretty good. I don’t think we give up a lot of offensive rebounds.”

Kaden Justice delivered 12 points for the Wildcats. Jackson finished with 11 points.

Qwon Bridges topped the Titans with 21 points. Khalil Hughley connected on three treys and had 14 points. Jakobi Sharp rang for 11 points. Walker finished with eight points.

“I think we slowed them down tonight,” Blackwell said. “They didn’t get out and run as much as they normally do. We didn’t get dunked on five or six times, so that was pretty good.

“We kept swapping our defenses up a little bit and throwing some different things at them. I do think that frustrated them. I was pleased with everything we did.”

Girls

Gadsden City 66, Sand Rock 37

SAND ROCK – Ajainay Tinker tallied 16 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead the Gadsden City girls to a 66-37 girls basketball win over Sand Rock on Tuesday.

ZyAja Lindsey and Aniyah Williams added 13 and 11 points respectively for the Lady Titans (3-1). Destiny Whiteside finished with nine points.

Gadsden City led at each of the quarter breaks. The Lady Titans held a 15-9 advantage at the end of the first quarter and held a 26-21 edge at halftime. Gadsden City went on a 21-7 third-quarter run to blow the game open at 47-28.

Katelyn StClair led Sand Rock (1-2) with 14 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal. Chloe Stephens contributed eight points, seven rebounds and three assists. Jacey Stephens and Zoey Handy both netted six points. Stephens also had three steals. Handy had 11 rebounds and a steal.

Sand Rock’s Chloe Stephens drives past a Gadsden City defender on her way to the basket Tuesday evening. Photo by Shannon Fagan.
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