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ALJ boys advance to region tournament

The A.L. Johnson Eagles advanced to the regional tournament for the first time since 1999 with a 76-65 win over J.F. Shields Tuesday night.

Jeremy Mitchell was the difference-maker for the Eagles, scoring at will throughout the game. He ended the game with 27 points and 6 rebounds.

“Jeremy [Mitchell] and Charles [Edwards] are our leaders,” ALJ head coach Johnney Ford said. “I met with them before the game and told them this team will go as far as they lead them.”

The Eagles took control of the game in the second quarter, outscoring the Panthers 24-11 in the quarter.

Mitchell scored 14 of his 27 points in the second quarter, and he had 18 going into halftime.

With a 42-25 lead at the break, ALJ was able to hold onto their 17-point lead throughout the third quarter.

The Panthers made a run in the fourth quarter, pulling to within single digits of the lead, but the Eagles tightened up on defense and finished the game strong.

“I knew coming into the game that we’d have to handle adversity,” Ford said. “The longer the season goes along, the tougher the teams get. Against Linden last week, we started slow, and I told the guys that if we want to continue playing, we can’t do that anymore. We can’t start slow, and we didn’t tonight.”

The Eagles will face the Fruitdale Pirates at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the Dothan Civic Center. Both teams are 12-4 on the season.

“I’ve told our guys all along to take it one game at a time and to stay focused on our next opponent,” Ford added. “We aren’t going to hype it up more than we would for any other game. We know we’re going to have to fight and overcome adversity to win, but I fell like when we’re playing our game, we’re one of the best teams in the state.”

In addition to Mitchell’s 27 points, Tywon Scott and Shermon Kennedy each added 14 points and 11 rebounds. Desmond Mair ended the game with 13 points and 7 rebounds.

Jeremy Holloman led the way for the Panthers with 21 points.

A.L. Johnson’s girls also hosted J.F. Shields Tuesday night, but the result was much different.

The Lady Panthers jumped ahead early and built a huge halftime lead to win the game 76-34.

Everything was working for Shields in the first half as they build a 55-9 halftime lead. The Lady Eagles fought through the end of the game, though, outscoring the Lady Panthers in each of the final two frames.

Jameia Jones was the top scorer for ALJ with 13 points, followed by Tiffany Barber with 12 points.

Ti’Ajah McCreary led the way for the Lady Panthers with 27 points, followed by Mar’quaja Brown with 22 points. Shamya Johnson had 8 points and 19 rebounds in just over a half of play.