Dionte Kelly led the Columbia Eagles to a semi-final win over the Fayette County Tigers and will play for the Northwest Regional title Saturday and the opportunity to represent the Huntsville area in Birmingham at the AHSAA Final Four tournament held at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Complex. The Eagles will have to get past the Dora Bulldogs in order to make it to Birmingham, but they have just that opportunity come Saturday.
Fayette County (18-9) opened up with a 5-1 lead, but the Eagles were able to tie the game up at 7-7 with two 3-pointers by Kelly. However, the Tigers were able to close out the quarter scoring the final four points and held an 11-7 lead. Columbia controlled the second quarter and both teams headed into the locker room all knotted up at 20 points each.
The Tigers controlled the start of the second half and jumped out to a 29-22 lead with 5:30 left in the third quarter and led by the same margin going into the final stanza. Columbia (20-10) trailed most of the way in the final frame, until Marlin Clemons dropped in a shot for a 52-51 lead to cap off a 10-0 run, aided in part mostly by Hosie Seal and Pat Smart. The Eagles outscored Fayette County 35-14 in the final quarter.
Columbia gave the lead back to the Tigers late in the game as Tim Walker dropped in a shot for a 53-52 advantage. Smart reclaimed the lead for the Eagles with a shot inside and Denzel Harrison connected on 1-of-2 free throws for a two-point lead. Robert Flowers sealed the win for Columbia by blocking a shot by Fayette County’s Patrick Billups. Flowers was then fouled and went to the line for two free-throws where he made both for the final margin.
Kelly led Columbia with 16 points, six rebounds and a blocked shot, Clemons followed with eight points, five rebounds and three steals, Smart added eight points, four boards, two assists and three steals, Seal contributed with six points, five assists and two rebounds, Kantwon Rogers added four points and a rebound, Tevin Simon finished with four points, Harrison had five points, while Marcus Parker and Flowers each chipped in two points.
Fayette County was led by Walker with 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Jamille Hicks followed with 12 points, 13 rebounds and four assists for a double-double, Cam Poe-Mitchell finished with nine points and three rebounds, Alex Quesenberry finished with seven points, six rebounds and nine blocked shots, Joe Smith and Billups each added four points, and Alex Underwood chipped in with two points and four rebounds.