BIRMINGHAM — St. Luke’s scored its final 10 points on free throws to stave off a 13-0 Mars Hill run and held on for a 63-56 victory in the Class 2A state semifinals Monday at Legacy Arena.
The Wildcats (16-11) will try to win their first state title in Friday’s 10:45 a.m. finals against No. 9-ranked Aliceville (24-1) after falling short in the 1A finals in 2016, 2018 and 2019.
Brandon Cooks continued to spark St. Luke’s postseason run with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 3 steals. The Wildcats have won seven straight games since Cooks returned from a broken collarbone that caused him to miss most of the regular season. St. Luke’s started the season 2-8 but has won 14 of its last 17 games,
Mike Myles added 16 points and 6 assists and Kamerion Chambers 14 points for the Wildcats.
St. Luke’s built a 44-29 lead going into the fourth period only to see Mars Hill go on the 13-0 run to cut the lead to 53-52 with 2:37 remaining. But Myles sank two free throws on the ensuing possession and Mars Hill (24-10) didn’t score again until less than 30 seconds remained.
The Wildcats hit 10 of 11 free throws in the final 2:11, including Cooks going 4 for 4 during that key stretch and 8 of 12 for the game. In all, St. Luke’s was 18 of 28 from the line while Mars Hill was 3 of 3.
“I preach it all the time — defense wins championships, period,” Wildcats coach Garreth Trawick said. “I don’t know if I’m the coach to do it but I’m going to try my hardest.”
Mars Hill’s Hugh Hargett led all scorers with 28 points, including six 3-pointers.