Warhawks and Bulldogs clash in exciting area championship
By Josh Boutwell
In the Class 2A, Area Championship, the Daleville Warhawks (17-10) and Geneva County Bulldogs (24-5) slugged it out to a wild 74-73 finish in Hartford on Friday, Feb. 7.
After battling back and forth for the entirety of the game, Geneva County was able to stretch its lead out to as much as 12 points in the fourth quarter, but Daleville wasn’t ready to pack it in just yet.
The Warhawks continued to chip away at the lead until finally junior Peanut Bloodsaw drove to the basket and knocked down a layup with 3:08 left in the game to cut the Bulldog lead to 67-66.
Geneva County responded with a jumper to extend its lead to 69-66 but Daleville responded as sophomore Tomar Hobdy knocked down a pair of free throws to cut it to 69-68 with 2:44 remaining.
Geneva County extended its lead to 71-68 and then Hobdy converted a free throw with 1:25 remaining to cut the lead to 71-69. After missing the second free throw attempt, Hobdy stole the rebound from a Bulldog and knocked down a three-pointer to give Daleville a 72-71 lead. It was Daleville’s first lead since early in the first quarter.
With 1:14 left, Geneva County knocked down another jumper to retake the lead 73-72. After Daleville was unable to score on its ensuing possession, Geneva County got to the foul line but missed both free throw attempts with 1:00 remaining.
After a Daleville turnover, Geneva County attempted to stretch the lead out but Daleville senior Melvin Matthews rejected a shot attempt with 37 seconds left.
Unfortunately the Warhawks turned the ball over again and were forced to foul a Bulldog. Again, Geneva County couldn’t convert the free throw attempt and with 8.9 seconds left Hobdy got to the foul line again.
Hobdy knocked down 1-of-2 free throw attempts to tie the score 73-73. A foul was called on Daleville on the missed free throw attempt as both teams jockeyed for position on the rebound. Geneva County knocked down 1-of-2 free throw attempts to retake the lead 74-73 with 7.8 seconds remaining.
Bloodsaw managed to make his way down the court and get off a last-second shot attempt before the buzzer but it came up short as Geneva County held on to capture the area crown.
“I have no problem with our effort at all but I just don’t think we played very well,” Daleville coach Blake Garner said. “I don’t think we played well defensively and we didn’t rebound it as well as we have this season.
“I think we did better as the game went on but that was the key to it and (the players) know that.”
Hobdy led the Warhawks with 21 points, five assists and two steals but junior Sincere McKenzie may have been the Player of the Game for Daleville as he gutted it out to score 17 points, two steals and two rebounds despite a gruesome hand injury in the first half.
Early in the second quarter, McKenzie attempted to swat away a steal on defense and the ball jammed a finger on his shooting hand causing it to dislocate. Despite the injury, McKenzie returned to the court in the second half and scored 11 points in the half, with eight of those points coming in the third quarter.
“He’s very, very tough to come back and score 17 points after dislocating a finger,” Garner said of McKenzie. “He played defense, hit three’s and was flying all over the place. There really isn’t anyone else on our bench that can just cause chaos (on the court) like he does.”
Bloodsaw scored 14 points, grabbed three rebounds and dished four assists, while senior Bryan Beckwith was a sharpshooter from the three-point line with 12 points, three rebounds and two assists. Beckwith went 4-of-6 from behind the arch.
Matthews had double digit rebounds for the eighth consecutive game as he grabbed 13 rebounds in the loss.
Daleville and Zion Chapel Class 2A Sub-Regionals on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m.