Despite a gritty performance, the Enterprise Wildcats fell to the Eufaula Tigers by a score of 59-34 in the finals of the Downtown Dothan Hoops Classic on Tuesday, Dec. 31.
First, the Wildcats had to dispatch of the Barbour County Jaguars in the semifinals on Dec. 30 and did so by a score of 74-67.
Enterprise came out on fire, outscoring Barbour County 23-10 in the opening period and ultimately took a 41-25 lead into halftime.
Barbour County did manage to outscore Enterprise 42-33 in the second half but it wasn’t enough as the Wildcats held on to advance to the Dothan Hoops Classic Championship for the first time in school history.
The Wildcats were led by senior Dallas Howell’s season-high 22 points, three assists, seven rebounds and two steals.
Junior Damarion Holt also pitched in with a career-high 20 points and two assists in the win. Sophomore Quentin Hayes had his best night of the tournament with 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, as well.
Junior Jalen Cunningham added eight points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Eufaula thrashed Carroll 70-34 in the other semifinal matchup to secure the championship showdown.
Enterprise and Eufaula previously met on Dec. 6 with the Tigers coming away with a dominating 71-43 win. This time around, the Wildcats were determined not to let history repeat itself.
Both teams came out fired up on defense, not allowing either side to get off to a quick start on offense. After slugging it out in the first period, Eufaula took a slim 8-7 lead into the second quarter.
Then, both teams started connecting on three-pointers. Enterprise’s Josh McCray and Holt knocked down back-to-back three pointers but the Tigers matched them shot-for-shot. Eufaula managed to hold on to a 27-21 lead at halftime.
The two sides continued to battle it out in the third quarter with Eufaula outscoring Enterprise 13-10 to take a 40-31 lead into the final period, however.
The fourth quarter was owned by Eufaula, though. The Tigers outscored the Wildcats 19-3 as Enterprise simply couldn’t get back on track.
A number of controversial fouls called – and not called – throughout the game had built up until Enterprise coach Rhett Harrelson was hit with a technical foul after voicing his displeasure with the officiating.
Holt was the only Wildcat to score in double digits with 10 points, while McCray had eight points and four rebounds.
Howell added six points, five rebounds and two blocks, as well.
Howell, Holt and Cunningham each earned All-Tournament honors, while junior Jared Smith also picked up the Adam Deese Sixth Man Award during the tournament.
Eufaula’s Jadarious Blackshire, Eiszeric Thomas and Caleb Paige joined the Wildcat trio on the All-Tournament team alongside Carroll’s Daniel Pruitt, Terry and Bryson Dawkins. Barbour County’s Raphael Williams, Jaborious Bennett and Willie Screws also earned All-Tournament honors alongside Rehobeth’s Parker Turner.
Headland’s Patrick Burke won the Southern Bone and Joint 3-Point Shootout and Geneva earned the Top Sportsmanship Award.
Enterprise followed up the tournament appearance with a 55-48 road win over Carroll on Jan. 3.
Holt again led Enterprise with 14 points, while Howell added 13 points and eight rebounds in the win. McCray also chipped in with eight points, four rebounds and three steals.
Enterprise kicked off area play on the road against Jeff Davis on Tuesday, Jan. 7, and came away with a frustrating 70-65 loss.
Howell led the way with a season-high 26 points, including five three-pointers in the first half. Quentin Hayes chipped in with 18 points in the loss.
Enterprise will host R.E. Lee in an area matchup this Friday, Jan. 10.