A.L. Johnson punches ticket to regional round with win over Shields

THOMASTON — For the first time since 1999, A.L. Johnson is headed to a regional basketball tournament. The Eagles (12-4) held off a late J.F. Shields surge for a 76-65 win in sub-regional play Tuesday night.

The Eagles used a 24-11 second quarter to open up a 42-25 halftime lead and carried the double digit margin until late in the fourth quarter.

With 3:47 to play, Damarius Shumack came up with a steal and ran the length of the floor for a lay-in that cut the ALJ lead to single digits at 63-54.

Shermon Kennedy grabbed an offensive rebound from a seated position on the ensuing possession and made a heady pass to Tywon Scott coming down the right baseline. Scott absorbed the defensive contact and banked the shot in before cashing in on the And-1 opportunity to stretch the ALJ lead to 66-54 with 3:26 to play.

Shields made another charge with less than two minutes to go, trimming the deficit to eight when Tamrik May cashed in a steal for an easy bucket. Just 30 seconds later, Jeremy Holloman mimicked the feat to trim the trailing margin to 71-65 with 1:06 to play.

The Eagles proceeded to settle down in the final minute, making a trio of free throws and getting a Jeremy Mitchell rebound and putback to ice the win.

The Eagles pounded the boards early and often in the contest, outrebounding the Panthers 51-41 on the night.

Scott and Kennedy each finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Eagles. Desmond Mair had 13 points and seven boards. Mitchell had six rebounds to go along with his game high 27 points.

Holloman led Shields with 21 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists. JohnTavius Dailey added 11 points and seven rebounds while May also scored 11 points. Kenan McCreary had eight points and 11 rebounds for Shields.

The win advances ALJ to the South Regional Tournament in Dothan where it will face Fruitdale at 4:30 p.m. Friday.