A.L. Johnson powers past Pirates in South Regional

DOTHAN — A.L. Johnson (11-7) used a second-half surge fueled by a dominant performance on the boards to down Fruitdale 63-49 in the first round of the Class 1A South Regional in Dothan Thursday.

The Eagles found themselves knotted at 24 with the Pirates through two quarters of play but exploded for a 15-8 third quarter anchored by a balanced scoring attack from its guards. Leo Baker hit a pair of free throws with 4:47 to play in the third quarter to put his team up 28-26 and the Eagles never lost the lead again.

Shermon Kennedy drained a three on the next possession to open it to five points before stretching the lead to seven with only 5.8 ticks left on the third quarter clock. When the game turned to its final period, Desmond Mair asserted his presence. He opened the scoring just 10 seconds into the frame with a pirouetting over-the-shoulder backwards heave as he was falling to the floor. With 5:41 to play, he grabbed one of his six offensive boards in the game and connected on a turnaround put-back to up the advantage to 45-34.

Mair struck again with 4:19 to go when he caught a full-court pass from Baker and finished it with a layup for the 50-39 lead. After a missed Eagle free throw, Mair grabbed the offensive rebound and nailed the put-back for the 55-42 lead with 2:58 to go.

Mair finished the night with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Kennedy scored 14 points to go along with seven boards. Taylor Herelle had 11 points while Baker had 11 rebounds. Johnny Robertson added eight points off the bench on 3-of-4 shooting.

William Tricksey led Fruitdale with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Desmond Hill scored 17 for the Pirates.

A.L. Johnson moves to a Monday showdown with Georgiana in the Class 1A South Final.