BIRMINGHAM – Senior forward Peter McDonald nailed the first two buckets in overtime and junior forward Matthew McNeece followed with a lay-up and free throw as McGill-Toolen Catholic nipped Sparkman 64-61 in the Class 7A semifinals of the 96th State Basketball tournament at the BJCC Legacy Arena Thursday. The victory sends the Yellow Jackets (25-6) into Saturday’s 7A boys’ championship game at 5:45 p.m. The McGill-Toolen girls also reached the finals with a win in the 7A girls’ semifinals.
Coach Phillip Murphy’s Jackets trailed by 10 after one quarter and by 16 late in the second period. Sparkman (30-5), coached by Jamie Coggins, took a 46-40 lead into the fourth quarter and held the lead until 1:34 remaining. Trailing 52-49, McGill-Toolen’s Eric Toth got a defensive rebound and then sped to the other end where he sank and short jumper and was fouled. He converted the free throw to tie the game.
The Jackets finally took their first lead with 49 seconds left in regulation on McDonald’s lay-up. Malik Tyson’s jumper 15 seconds later gave back the lead to the Senators, 55-54. With 16 seconds left, Toth tied the game with a free throw.
McGill-Toolen took control in overtime and Sparkman’s last-second shot to tie at the buzzer hit the back of the rim.
McDonald fished with 10 points on a 5-of-6 shooting performance. Toth had 10 points and 10 rebounds, Matthew Russ and Manny Patrick added 12 points apiece. Patrick also canned three 3-pointers. McNeece finished with nine points, two blocked shots and six rebounds.
Tyson led Sparkman with 14 points and six rebounds. Ellis Lee had 13 points and Darron Howard had 11.
The Class 7A semifinals continued in Thursday with two games in the semifinals. The Class 1A girls’ and boys’ finals will be Thursday afternoon. Class 2A, 3A and 4A finals will be Friday and Classes 5A, 6A and 7A will conclude the tourney Saturday.
All semifinal games in the tourney are being live video-streamed by the NFHS Network and broadcast over the AHSAA Radio Network. Both may be accessed at www.ahsaa.com. Raycom Sports will broadcast all finals over its TV network. The AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast all finals over it state-wide radio network and website.