For the second straight year, it will take a flip of a coin to decide who hosts the 6A, Area 5 Boys Basketball Tournament next month.
The Northview Cougars used a dominating backcourt and strong defense to come away with a 69-56 win over the Dothan Tigers before an overflowing crowd at Cougar Gym Friday night.
With the win, the Cougars (8-9 overall) tie the Tigers (10-7) and Enterprise (13-9) for the regular-season area title with identical 2-2 records. Since all three series ended up split, the only way to decide who hosts the area tournament will be a rare three-team coin flip. The coin flip will be held at the annual area tournament meeting before the end of the month.
The win by Northview avenged a painful 52-48 setback to Dothan on January 7 at Davis Gym.
The Cougars grabbed control of the game with a dominant third quarter to take another double-digit lead. But unlike the previous encounter, Northview showed plenty of mental toughness down the stretch to come away with a hard-fought win.
“Total teamwise, our team took it personally the way we lost the last time,” said Northview head coach Janasky Fleming. “Now, they want to do whatever it takes to win.”
Dothan jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead before Northview went on an 8-0 run to tie the game. The Tigers used dominant inside play to earn a 17-14 lead after the first quarter.
The game was tied at 25-25 late in the second quarter before Northview gained some momentum going into halftime. A three-point play by senior Brandon Gardner and a three-pointer by sophomore Jalen Harris at the buzzer gave the Cougars a 33-27 lead at intermission.
Despite the thrilling end to the first half, Fleming said the players still were not satisfied in the locker room.
“Jalen turned the ball over for the first time since January 4,” Fleming said. “I was so proud for him just to hit that shot. We need for him to play well to get to the next level.
“In the last game, we had a 14-point lead (against Dothan). They said a six-point lead wasn’t large enough. In other words, our kids said we have been here before.”
Northview’s guards forced the action by forcing turnovers and converting them into easy layups. Northview took a 43-32 lead before settling for a 47-38 advantage heading into the final period.
In the fourth quarter, Dothan trimmed the margin to three points on three occasions before Marquez White took over White hit three key shots to extend Northview’s lead to 59-52 at the 2:30 mark. Dothan was unable to trim the margin any closer as White scored 10 of Northview’s final 18 points to put the game away.
White led all scorers with 32 points while Antonio Mitchell added 20 points for the Cougars.
Mark Ford led a balanced attack for Dothan 14 points and Devante Johnson finished with 11 points in a losing cause.
The win was Northview’s fifth straight after their loss two weeks ago to the Tigers. The Cougars return to action Saturday night when they host 5A Charles Henderson.
Dothan girls dominate
Meanwhile, the Dothan girls outlasted Northview 62-21 to earn the season sweep over the Lady Cougars.
Jennifer Cantelope led a balanced attack for Dothan with 14 points, while Doroteya Jackson and Crystal Anderson each added 12 points in the winning effort.
Amanda Steffin finished with six points for the Lady Cougars.