But the six biggest points of the game in the Valley Cubs’ 55-49 win against Weaver in the quarterfinals of the 60th annual Calhoun County tournament came far away from the basket.
Junior Justin Bowen hit 3-pointers down the stretch to keep Weaver from pulling off what would’ve been a mild upset in a matchup between the tournament No. 4 and No. 5 seeds.
Alexandria allowed what once was a double-digit lead to slip away with a little less than four minutes remaining. With the game knotted at 41, Weaver senior P.J. Montgomery drove to the bucket in transition with a nice side-step move to avoid being called for a charge. He was fouled on the play but still got the attempt to fall and connected on the free-throw to put his team ahead 41-38 with 3:38 left.
The Bearcats sagged off the shooters and dropped back to a 2-3 zone defense on the next possession and Shaw made them pay for it, stroking a 3 from the left wing to tie the game up. Weaver took control again by two behind a pair of free-throws by center Malik Anderson. With Weaver still in the 2-3, Bowen connected from deep to give the Valley Cubs the lead for good at 47-46 with 2:37 left.
“I love to see that 2-3,” Shaw said. “We know that we’ve got good big men who can score whenever they get the ball. So, we know that when we see that 2-3, we’re going to be wide open. We just had to knock them down to stay in the game.”
The Valley Cubs (9-6) face No. 8 Piedmont today at 5:30 p.m. in the semifinals for a spot in Saturday’s 6 p.m. championship game. The Class 3A Bulldogs knocked off top-seeded Anniston, ranked No. 6 in the state in Class 4A, in a 63-53 win Wednesday.
“We’re going to have to play over heads again,” Alexandria coach Jason Johnson said echoing his sentiments following prior to their matchup against the Bearcats. “Piedmont is the hottest team in the county right now. They shoot the ball exceptionally well.”
Shaw’s 3 was his only field goal of the game. He finished the game with six points as did Bowen.
Six-foot-3 senior Landon Straub led the way for the Valley Cubs, coming up just a rebound shy of a double-double with 19 points and nine boards on the night.
“I had a horrible first quarter,” Straub said. “Coach pulled me to the side and got on me a little bit. I came back in the second quarter, had seven straight points and got on a roll.”
Straub’s mini-scoring spree put the Valley Cubs up 10 with 6:27 left in the second but cut the deficit to five at 25-20 by halftime.
The Cubs lead 35-29, heading into the fourth when Montgomery sprung into action.
Montgomery scored the Bearcats first seven points of the quarter and pulled his team to within three with 4:30 to play. Then freshman shooting guard Timothy Hawkins hit two straight 3s first from the right corner then from the left to give Weaver the lead, however briefly, at 42-41 to set up the scenario that lead to Shaw and Bowen’s crucial 3-pointers.
The Bearcats (13-7) had their chances but failed to convert on several jumpers late.
Anderson scored a team-best 15 for the Bearcats followed by point guard Chris English’s 11. Montgomery and Hawkins each scored 10.
“I was very proud of the way the guys played tonight,” Johnson said. “I thought we did a lot better defensively than we did the other night, being able to deal with their size and quickness.