With dad and former Auburn and NBA star Wesley Person in attendance, he scored the Bulldogs’ final seven points and a game-high 25 overall, and they survived 49-47 to reach Friday’s boys’ 1A final.
Brantley (21-5) will play the Marion County-St. Jude winner Friday at 3 p.m. in the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Complex.
Ragland got 15 points from Jimmy Brock, 12 from Cody Jones and 10 from Kijana Lindsey, but it wasn’t enough to survive the Purple Devils’ first appearance in the state semifinals under the current format, which started in 1994.
The Purple Devils had to overcome a brutal start. They went scoreless in the first quarter and shot 10 percent from the field en route to a 20-9 halftime deficit.
“I was very proud how we played in the second half,” Ragland coach Andy Eden said. “We were just nervous a little bit, I think, in the first half. A lot of adrenaline going, and it just wasn’t real smooth for us.
“But I was proud of the way the guys didn’t give up at halftime and the way we fought back.”
Ragland came back in part by forcing 27 Brantley turnovers and took its first lead, 38-37, on Brock’s layup with 1:19 left in regulation.
But Brock had the responsibility of guarding person and fouled out with 1:05 left in regulation. Person hit one of two free throws to tie it then missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
Ragland got off to a good start in overtime and led by three points twice --- 43-40 on a Jaylen Brewster 3-pointer and 45-42 on Jones’ jumper with 1:29 left.
But Brantley put the ball in Person’s hands, and he tied the game with an old-fashioned 3-point play at 1:03. He went 5-for-5 at the free-throw line down the stretch, including two for the decisive points with two seconds left.
Brantley’s Otis Guice intercepted Ragland’s three-quarter-court inbounds pass on the game’s final play.
Ragland finished its season at 28-7.
Sports Columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter @jmedley_star.