Who let these ‘Dogs out?:

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 14, 2002

Pike County downs No. 2 Calhoun on the road for Area 2 tournament title


Sports Editor

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Just when the Calhoun Tigers thought it was safe to claim their second straight area championship the Pike County Bulldogs showed up.

Down by eight in the fourth quarter, Chris Nickson’s layup with eight seconds remaining capped off a remarkable comeback as Pike County defeated the defending 3A champion Tigers 56-54 on Tuesday night in Calhoun to win the Area 2 tournament title.

"I love these guys and I love coaching them," said head coach Danny Suber. "They deserved this. It’s a big moment for the team and for the school."

The loss by Calhoun regulated the regular season champs to a road game when sub-regional play starts on Friday. Pike County will host Catholic of Montgomery.

The game was tight throughout and the Tigers led by only two at the half, 24-22. Calhoun would build that lead to eight points with five minutes left in the game before a three-point play by Michael Walker and a three-pointer from the top of the key by guard Reggie Griffin tied the game at 54-54 with 1:40 remaining.

Calhoun missed a shot in the paint and then Nickson went to the basket all alone to give the Bulldogs the lead. Pike County’s full court pressure then held Calhoun without a shot in the final seconds of play.

"It was an extremely tense game and a very exciting one," said Suber. "I told one of the officials that ‘if I wasn’t coaching and you weren’t officiating this would be a good game to sit down and watch.’"

But Suber noted that come 3 p.m., the Bulldogs’ usual practice time, he was going to bring his squad "back down to earth." He pointed out the last time Pike County won a big game, against in-county rival Goshen on Feb. 1, the Bulldogs then proceeded to drop their final two games of the year at Wetumpka and Bullock County.

"I told them to enjoy it, but when practice starts it’s over," he said. "Catholic’s going to be a challenge. They’ve got a great program. We’ve got to continue to play with intensity and do a better job scoring. But I think a lot of the problems we have with scoring is because we play so hard on defense."

Nickson led the Bulldogs with 16 points on Tuesday night. Nick Walker had 14 and an equally good effort on the boards. Michael Walker added 10 as did Griffin, who has become a more consistent scorer as the season’s progressed.

"He’s (Griffin) got his shot down. He’s my field general," said Suber. "Every time, before a game, I tell the team what we’re going to do on defense, what we’re going to do at the tip and what we’re going to do on the inbounds pass. Then I tell Reggie that he’s got the offense. He loves it and he’s fun to watch and coach. He’s a knucklehead sometimes, but when it’s on the line, Reggie performs."

Goshen falls to Red Level: The Goshen Eagles will have to travel on Friday as Class 2A sub-region play begins. Goshen fell to Red Level in the area tournament title game, 75-73, also held on Tuesday night.

The Eagles will play at Southern Choctaw.

Red Level’s Clinton Jackson scored 27 points and Frank Tolbert added 20.

Goshen was led by Ge-Vonne Cooper’s 19 points and Wesley Wright’s 18. Kendaris Pelton scored 12 and Damien Pelton had 11.