Pike Patriots fall in regionals, preparing for Elite 8

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots fell to the Hooper Colts 60-47 Friday and Autauga Academy on Saturday, ending their run in the AISA 3A region 2 tournament at Fort Dale Academy in Greenville.

The Patriots limped into the start of the tournament but after defeating Morgan Academy, Coach Alan Ponder hoped his team had turned the corner. In their game against Hooper, bad habits returned.

“It was more of the same,” Ponder said. “We play well in spurts. We got to the point to where we quit playing four quarters. When you play good teams you can’t do that. When you don’t play one quarter you end up playing behind and that makes it very difficult. We are trying to concentrate on putting a four quarter game together”

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On Friday evening against Hooper, the Patriots played well in the first three quarters but struggled in the final and most important quarter of the game. Marquese Christian led the Patriots with 12 points and Hunter Jones finished with 12.

The Patriots followed up Friday night’s loss with a 55-53 loss to Autauga on Saturday. Jones led the way with 15 points while Christian finished with 13.

Even with the two losses the Patriots are heading to the Elite 8 tournament, which starts on Wednesday

The Patriots will spend the next two days trying to figure out how to play four quarters.

“That is our main emphasis,” Ponder said. “Our breakdowns have mainly come defensively. That one quarter let down on defense. Mixed with us not making shots in the second half, that has really put us behind late in the games. We are going to work hard on playing good defense for 32 minutes and let the pieces fall where they may.”

Two players that will be heavily relied on during the Elite 8 will be Jones and Christian. Those two players have been the difference-makers all season long.

“Those are our two guys,” Ponder said. “That is who we rely on offensively. The team looks to them to bring energy. It’s a heavy load but they have done a good job carrying it all year long.”

The Trojans will take on Lee Scott to begin the tournament on Thursday.

“They have a very good team,” Ponder said. “They are a very well coached basketball team. Lee Scott takes a lot of pride in their tradition of being a basketball school. They are going to come out and play hard.”

The Patriots hope to play with a sense of urgency.

“You have to,” Ponder said. “You’re down now to a one game season. I think our guys understand that, especially our seniors. They are down to their last games. There is no tomorrow. We are going to try and play with that mentality.”

The Patriots Elite 8 match against Lee Scott will be Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at the Multiplex in Montgomery.