The Central Red Devils held Mountain Brook forward Trendon Watford to a quiet first half in Thursday’s Class 7A semifinal game. By midway through the third quarter, Watford showed the Red Devils they could only contain him for so long.
Watford delivered a tomahawk dunk with 5:25 left in the third quarter that signaled the beginning of the end for Central. After trading the lead with Mountain Brook eight times in the first half, the Red Devils failed to limit Watford and the team’s 3-point shooters in a 70-42 loss.
“I brought a team in today, and they were prepared. Everything just didn’t go as planned,” Central coach Bobby Wright said. “That team we played had a lot to do with that. They were well-coached and well-disciplined on offense and defensive. I thought my kids played hard, but in the end we just came up short.”
Mountain Brook surged to a six-point lead at the end of the first half then put the game away in the third quarter. After scoring eight points in the first half, Watford answered with nine in the third alone, as he put his 6-foot-9 frame to good use.
Never miss a local story.
Watford’s dominance in the post came as Mountain Brook’s Britton Johnson and Sean Elmore found their groove from 3-point range. Watford, Johnson and Elmore were largely responsible for a 15-4 run in the third quarter, a stretch of scoring capped off by Watford’s thunderous dunk.
“Coming out of the locker room, we wanted to amp it up a little bit because nobody was in foul trouble,” said Watford, who had a game-high 22 points. “That was our key point. I felt like we just sparked it up.”
In Wright’s opinion, Mountain Brook taking over was a product of having a little more depth than the Red Devils.
“Quite honestly, I think we were out of gas,” Wright said. “I think we had an eight-man rotation, and they had nine or 10. When you’re behind, you exert a little more energy. We were playing extremely hard, and some of our guys just ran out of gas.”
As disappointing as the loss was, it was a bit more frustrating considering how strong Central started the game.
The Red Devils matched Mountain Brook blow for blow early on, trading the lead five times in the opening quarter. While Central kept Watford at bay in the first half, it leaned heavily offensively on DeAnthony Miles.
Miles put up Central’s first six points in the game, which helped the Red Devils claw back from a 9-2 start by Mountain Brook.
“Me going to the basket more and not taking as many shots (worked well),” said Miles, who had 11 points. “It was from me attacking the basket.”
Despite the loss, Wright applauded the efforts of his team. Ten Red Devils also played for the football team, which meant their basketball season didn’t start until December. Despite the quick switch to another sport, Central showed little strain, winning the area title once again and advancing to the Class 7A semifinals for the second time in three years.
“A lot of other teams would like to be talking to you right now and they aren’t,” Wright said. “We don’t have anything to hang out head about. We made it to the Final Four, had a great run and had a great season.
“We’re proud. We’ve got a good program, and we’re excited to try and get here next year.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports