By PATRICK CASEY
The Paxton Bobcats defeated Ponce de Leon 60-17 to capture third place in the 2008 Hilton Sandestin Beach Basketball Blowout that was held at Freeport High School last week.
The event, which just wrapped up its 14th year, brings in teams from throughout the Southeast to compete in a four-day event on the boys side and a 3-day event on the girls.
16 boys teams opened play on Saturday, December 27 with eight girls teams beginning competition at Freeport Middle School on Monday, December 29.
The opening day of the event saw Pinson Valley hand Baker’s boys their first loss of the season with a 71-55 victory. Cookeville, out of Tennessee, defeated Mobile UMS-Wright 67-51 with Tallahassee Maclay taking out St. Paul’s from Alabama 62-51.
Ponce de Leon, under first year head coach Brad Grant, staged a fourth quarter rally to defeat Bayside from Alabama 53-48 as Ryan Yates led the way with nine points for the Pirates.
Walton followed PDL with a 63-30 loss to Pleasant Grove, another Alabama entry, as the Braves could not find their shooting touch. James Towery led Walton with nine points.
Parkway, an Alabama school, took out Oliver Springs, a Tennessee squad, 42-37.
Paxton destroyed Collinsville, an Alabama school in the northeast part of the state, 72-47 as the Bobcats size and athleticism allowed Paxton to put the game away early. Zack Vickers led the way with 20 points in that contest.
Freeport ended the run of eight games on opening day with a loss to Buckhorn High School, a team from Kentucky, 85-66. The Bulldogs got 28 points from Johnny McCormick, but could not stop the visiting squad as they turned a 48-39 halftime lead into a win.
The second day of the event saw Oliver Springs send Baker packing with a 53-49 victory.
Walton escaped with a 50-47 win in overtime over UMS-Wright as Heath Morgan stole the ball at mid-court and converted a lay-up while drawing a foul to give Walton the victory. Mobile had a chance to win the game in regulation and tie the contest in the final seconds of overtime, but could not convert on the offensive end. James Towery led Walton with 14 points as the Braves stayed alive for another day in the event.
Freeport was stunned by Bayside 55-52 as the visiting team broke an 0-13 record in the event with the surprising win. The game stayed close as both sides could not pull away from the other, but Bayside made a few critical plays, and some free throws in the waning moments to hold on for the win. Johnny McCormick led the Bulldogs with 18 points as the Bulldogs ended the first half of the season with a 7-3 record.
St. Paul’s sent Collinsville packing with a 58-23 rout while Cookeville advanced with a 61-53 win over Pleasant Grove. Pinson Valley picked up their second win of the tourney with an impressive 70-52 victory over Parkway.
Paxton played the game of the night against Maclay as the Bobcats rallied from a second half deficit to defeat the Marauders 72-69. Zack Vickers scored 21 points and made several key free throws over the final three minutes of the game to help Paxton rally for the win in one of the better games throughout the entire tournament.
Ponce de Leon followed up Paxton’s performance with one of their best games of the year as they knocked off Buckhorn 60-52. Brock Bishop scored 16 points while Tory Serigne added 11 as the Pirates pulled away in the final quarter to improve to 6-6 on the year. The Pirates forced 30 turnovers in picking up the victory.
The third day of the event saw Buckhorn send Maclay packing with a 54-48 win over the Marauders while Pleasant Grove dispatched Parkway 70-40.
St. Paul’s ended Walton’s run with a 47-34 victory as the Braves continued to struggle with their shooting in the loss. James Towery again scored 14 points, but it wasn’t enough to rally the Braves who are now 8-5 heading into the second half of the season.
Oliver Springs had little trouble with Bayside as they won the contest 45-25 in an elimination game.
Paxton ran into a solid Cookeville team as the Bobcats were denied their second consecutive berth into the championship game as they lost 65-52. Cookeville was able to limit Paxton’s inside game as they built an early lead and held on for the win. Demitrius Moore and Zack Vickers scored 16 points apiece for the Bobcats, but the Paxton defense could not stop a balanced attack by the Tennessee team.
PDL was no match for Pinson Valley’s size or speed as they bombed the Pirates 71-35. Tory Serigne scored more than half of the points for the Pirates as he tallied 19 in the contest.
The final day of the event started with Pleasant Grove claiming fifth place with a 67-47 win over Buckhorn.
St. Paul’s captured the consolation title with a 51-44 win over Oliver Springs.
Paxton demolished PDL 60-17 as the Bobcats were too big for the Pirates. Shaq Jackson put up 13 points to lead the way for Paxton while no Pirate player scored more than four in the blowout. Paxton captured third place with the win after finishing in second place in the event in 2007.
Pinson Valley claimed the tournament’s boys championship with a 64-56 win over Cookeville. The Indians featured seven seniors and were led by junior Coty Clarke’s 20 points in earning the win. Pinson Valley posted four wins in the event to earn the title and has lost only one game so far this season.
The event will head into its 15th year next December when it will likely be played from December 28-31, Monday through Thursday in 2009.