By Chad Dixon
The Russell County Warriors (18-8, 4-0) completed a perfect season in Class 6A Area 3 with a region tournament championship on Feb. 8, 2017 with a 74-44 route over Northview. Ronnie Battles’ Warriors now will advance to the 6A Sub-Regional tournament.
“This win signifies a great level of discipline and commitment,” said Russell County Boys’ Head Coach Ronnie Battle. “It shows a lot of maturity – they have bought in to our system. They have learned how to depend on each other.”
Gary Johnson drained a three-pointer 10 seconds into the game and gave Russell County the early lead. Each team traded shots and Northview tied the game at seven 4:00 into the first quarter. Derrick Lindsey hit a three from the top of the key to give the Warriors back their three-point lead. Kavion Moore picked up an offensive rebound and a lay-up to close the quarter to extend the Warriors’ lead to 17-8.
Caleb Alexander and Jaquan Pritchett opened the second quarter with a pair of buckets for Russell County to advance their lead to 21-8. The Warriors were in full control until Northview went on a 10-2 run midway through the quarter to close the gap to 25-20. The Warriors answered with a 9-0 run of their own over the next 70 seconds.
Lindsey sank a two-point field goal, Rodney Battle drained a three-pointer and then picked up a steal and a lay-up on the inbound pass at midcourt. On the next possession, Damon Lloyd also stole the ball and put up a lay-up to extend the lead to 34-20. Fifteen seconds later, Pritchett hit a three to give Russell County a 37-20 lead.
“They drew to five points, but we always hang our hats on defense. The more they buy in to that, the more opportunities for shots it creates,” Battle added.
The Warriors had a commanding 46-23 lead at halftime and did not let up in the third. They outscored Northview 16-12 in the third. Pritchett and Lindsey scored six each in the quarter to take a commanding 62-35 lead into the final eight minutes.
With 3:54 remaining, Lloyd sank a free-throw to give the Warriors a 30-point lead (69-39). He led the team with 11 rebounds and scored 13 points. Coach Battle credits him for such an improvement in the team.
“He is one of our main leaders. He can do so much – rebound, score, assist and block. I really noticed the team buying in around mid-December. It really cranked up around mid-January. I think the win against Central played a role, but we were rolling at that point,” Battle said.
Pritchett led all scorers with 16 points. Battle scored 13, tied with Lloyd. Battle was names 6A Area 3 Most Valuable Player after the game.
“He took on a bigger role and continually stepped up. He did what we asked of him and bought into the system,” Coach Battle said of Rodney Battle.
The Warriors played Area 1 runner-up Blount High School on Feb. 13. The game was played prior to Citizen press time.