By D. Mark Mitchell
For the Opelika
Opelika boys basketball Coach John Wadsworth coached his team to a familiar place … the AHSAA 6A basketball Regionals in Montgomery to play Carver.
Despite having a significant height advantage over Opelika, the Wolverines struggled to get their offense going against the Bulldogs’ smothering defense.
The Bulldogs led 25 of the 32 minutes in the game, including a 26-19 halftime lead. Carver’s JayKwon Walton, a 6’8” Georgia commit, took over the game in the fourth quarter.
Walton started driving to the basket, causing Opelika to foul. Opelika took a 41-40 lead after Brandon Howard nailed a 3-pointer with 2:03 left in the game. After several possessions by both teams the Bulldogs had the basketball, down 43-41, with :26 seconds left in regulation. A 3-point shot rattled out of the goal, ending Opelika’s dreams as the buzzer sounded. Taye Fields led Opelika with 21 points.
Wadsworth said he was pleased with his team’s efforts.
“Our kids were fired up and ready to play. We were outmanned on paper, size, all the stats….but heart and effort. This team is full of good kids that gave it all they could. I feel so bad for my players, but I am happy with the class and character we displayed.. I congratulated JJ ( Carver Head Coach James Jackson) and wish his team the best, they are good,” Wadsworth said in a post-game interview.
The Bulldogs will return all but one senior next year.