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Sparkman continued its impressive turnaround by reaching the Class 6A state semifinals.
After outlasting No. 9 Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa 48-41 in the Northwest Regional semifinals, Sparkman beat Area 15 rival Hazel Green 64-59 in double overtime.
The Senators (28-7) prevailed over Hazel Green for the fourth time in as many meetings this season.
“It was a big time win,” Sparkman coach Jamie Coggins said. “I’m excited for the community.”
Sparkman will face No. 1 and defending state champion Carver-Montgomery in the state semifinals. The winner will play either Blount or Mountain Brook in the championship game.
“They’ve got a lot of size,” Coggins said. “Everybody’s had size on us all year.”
Sparkman’s deep playoff run bears little resemblance to the team that lost five of eight games at the end of the regular season. The Area 15 regular season and area tournament champions have won five straight games.
“We’ve done the tough things you have to do,” Coggins pointed out.
As a shot at a state title nears, Coggins emphasized the need for solid rebounding, defense and shot making.
“Rebounding is going to be a big key,” Coggins said. “We’re going to have to defend well and make a few shots.”
Sparkman beat Hillcrest in part by holding scoring threat Rayshawn Tubbs to eight points. Jason Russell guarded Tubbs much of the game.
Russell “did a fabulous job,” Coggins said.
Against Hazel Green, Sparkman overcame a nine-point deficit at halftime and the same spread with 2:23 left in the fourth quarter before winning after two overtimes.
Class 6A Northwest Regional MVP Devin Hankins, who finished with a team-high 21 points, made several key baskets and Sparkman’s defense turned up the pressure late.
No. 1 Sparkman’s unbeaten streak and season ended with a 47-33 loss to No. 3 and defending state champion Hoover in the Northwest Regional final.
Sparkman beat Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa 55-25 in the semifinals before falling to the Buccaneers. The Senators finished the season 33-1.