Paul W. Bryant High School's Class 6A, Area 7 tournament championship was emotional for Jared Sherfield in several ways on Saturday.
The Stampede defeated Hillcrest 44-41 for the championships, but before the tipoff, there was a moment of silence to honor 18-year old Holt High School basketball player Jalen Merriweather, who was shot and killed in a Tuscaloosa apartment complex on Friday.
“This means a lot to me and my program. I did this for my homeboy who passed on Friday,” said Sherfield, the tournament Most Valuable Player who led all scorers with 16 points.
It was a back-and-forth affair where the biggest lead was never larger than six points. The game started off sloppy with five turnovers between the teams in the first three minutes. Jamel King hit a 3-pointer as time expired to give Bryant the lead 13-12 at the end of the first quarter.
The lead for both teams was no fewer than two for the remainder of the first half. The Stampede turned the ball over with four seconds remaining and Johnson hit a jumper at the buzzer to put the Patriots up 22-21 at halftime.
The biggest lead in the third quarter never exceed four points, and Hillcrest hit a layup with 11 seconds left for a one-point lead heading to the fourth quarter.
“Coach (Shon Peck-Love) told us to stay alert and not to gamble at halftime,” Bryant's Marcus Bates Jr., said.
Sherfield was feeling it in the final quarter, knocking down consecutive 3-pointers, and scored eight of his 16 points in the period. Bates Jr. emphatically blocked a Beverly 3-point attempt in to the stands with with 2.1 seconds, and Hillcrest failed to score on the final possession, with Bryant clinching the championship.
Bryant (26-4) with host Selma in the sub-regional next week. Hillcrest (21-9) advances to play at Chilton County next Tuesday.
Along with Sherfield, all-tournament team members included Sedrick Pettway of Northridge, John Martin Wagner of Brookwood, Jalon Johnson of Hillcrest, and Bryant's Bates Jr.