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Highland Home too strong for Clarke County but coach vows return

Clarke County found the going tough inside against Highland Home Tuesday in the Class 2A South Regional finals at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery. Here, the Flying Squadron’s Greg Tate flies high to alter the shot of the Bulldogs’ Tamyus Pugh. (Helen Joyce/Call News)



MONTGOMERY — Clarke County was decisively stopped only 32 minutes away from reaching the pinnacle of high school basketball in Alabama Tuesday but coach Barry Coleman vowed to return with an even better team to seek its place on a statewide stage.

The Bulldogs (16-14), an unlikely candidate to reach the state tournament, had won four of their last five games to reach the Class 2A South Regional final but lost to Highland Home 51-33 at Garrett Coliseum. As soon as Coleman collected the regional runner-up plaque, he started looking ahead to what Clarke County can do next season with four returning starters.

“We should come back here again,” Coleman said. “We’re going to be better next year.”

The Bulldogs never led the Flying Squadron (20-7), although Terrance Weaver, the only senior starter, tied it 3-3 with a three-pointer two minutes into the game.

But by the end of the first period, Highland Home had begun showing its strength inside, pulling away to a 16-7 lead. It was 31-12 at halftime and the Flying Squadron led by as many as 26 points in the third period.

“It’s the first time our backs were to the wall and didn’t come out with a victory,” Coleman said.

Weaver finished his high school career with 13 points. But Highland Home got 15 points and 15 rebounds from Jakaleb Faulk, outrebounded Clarke County 46-33 and outscored the Bulldogs 12-4 off second-chance points and 19-10 off turnovers.

Clarke County’s defense held the Flying Squadron to 39% shooting and forced 15 turnovers but the Bulldogs shot only 25%, including making just 4 of 29 shots in the first half.

“They were more physical and that’s the difference,” Coleman said. “We didn’t stick to the gameplan. We wanted to pull their big guys out but we haven’t got it all figured out yet.

“We showed a lot of heart. That’s all I asked of them. It’s a great group of guys who worked hard to get here.”

The returning starters include forwards Jadarius Mason and Daveon Gildersleeve, guard Roderick Allen and center Justavian Crayton.

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