Eagles open with R.C. Hatch in Mobile

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 2, 2001

Sports Writer

After two consecutive years of early exits in the subregionals against Barbour County, the Goshen High School Eagles are back in the Sweet 16 dance.

In a season of milestones and incredible victories, the third ranked Eagles (21-2) hope to continue their mission this morning when they face the fifth ranked R.C. Hatch Bobcats (23-6) at the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A Southwest Regional Semifinals. Tipoff is set for 9 a.m. at the Mitchell Center on the University of South Alabama campus in Mobile.

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The winner of the Goshen-R.C. Hatch game will face the survivor between Southern Choctaw (21-8) and Keith (20-6) on Friday afternoon at 3:40 p.m. for the right to advance to the Class 2A Final Four in Birmingham next week. Southern Choctaw and Keith will face off today at noon. The Indians defeated Red Level 69-48, while Keith upset highly touted St. Jude 68-54 to set up the other matchup.

The Eagles reached the regionals by outlasting Highland Home (95-46) and Red Level (79-70) to earn the Class 2A Area 2 championship before disposing Excel 64-49 Friday night in the subregionals. On the other hand, the Bobcats from Perry County outlasted Keith 48-41 to win the Area 5 championship before holding off Montgomery County 80-72 in the subregionals Friday night in Uniontown.

R.C. Hatch is well known for turning out outstanding basketball talent. Current University of Alabama power forward Erwin Dudley is a former basketball star from the rural west central Alabama school.

Like the Eagles, the Bobcats are a guard oriented team which likes to penetrate and draw fouls by taking the ball to the basket aggressively. GHS head coach Major Lane said the Bobcats have one solid three point shooter who is capable of forcing Goshen out of its 2-3 zone at any time. Defensively, R.C. Hatch is a man-to-man team which thrives on forcing several turnovers by using its quickness.

In order to win the game, Lane said the Eagles must get ball inside and continue to do a good job of shooting the three point shot. Defensively, Lane said the key will be not allowing the Bobcat guards to penetrate into the lane against the Goshen front line and getting into foul trouble.

Another factor which could determine the outcome is free throw shooting. While the Eagles have shown tremendous strives at the free throw line during the regular season and the area tournament, production fell off against Excel as Goshen went just 6-of-15 at the foul line Friday night.

Senior forward/center Jamar Tucker and junior guard Averick Rogers lead a balanced attack for the Eagles. Tucker and Rogers each reached the 1,000 point mark for their careers this season.

While they are happy about getting back to the regionals for the first time in three years, Lane said the Eagles are in the Port City to take care of business.

"We’re going there on a mission to win both games so that we can get back to Birmingham and the Final Four," Lane said. "If we lose, we’ll pack our bags and go home. But if we take care of things one game at a time, everything will take care of itself. We’re glad to be back in the regionals, but we’re not satisfied."

Goshen vs. R.C. Hatch will be broadcast live by Troy’s own AM 970.