Facing Cedar Bluff without two suspended players made it even tougher.
DeAngelo Hardy and Tyric Scales each scored 20 points, and Cedar Bluff dominated undermanned Faith from the second quarter on to win 78-49 and advance to Friday’s 2:15 p.m. final against Collinsville in Jacksonville State University‘s Pete Mathews Coliseum.
“It was good to get back here, but we wanted to go further,” said Faith senior guard Zach Owens, who scored 17 points in his final high school game. “Overall, we didn’t play real good.
“They rebounded and hit outside sides, and then we kind of ran out of gas in the second half.”
Faith (16-13), making its first regional appearance since 2008, won eight games in a row between losses to Cedar Bluff. The Lions reached the regional by beating Ragland at home Friday.
Tuesday, they played without starting point guard Cole Parks and forward Jackson Fields, a 3-point shooting regular. Faith coach Kevin Wilson attributed the suspensions to “a situation at school” and said both players would have played in the final, had the Lions advanced.
“Not having two players, one of them being a starter, we had different guys that were trying to do that role of the starter,” Wilson said. “The chemistry was there like it has been the past seven games.”
Faith committed 22 turnovers against five assists and was outrebounded 41-28. The Lions shot 37.7 percent from the floor.
Cedar Bluff (27-3) shot 51.6 percent and led by as many as 36 points. Scott McGinnis gave the Tigers a third double-figurer scorer at 12 points.
“We were fortunate they had a player missing from their squad tonight that made a difference in how their team played,” Cedar Bluff coach Joe Carpenter said. “I think we turned it up in the second half, which we wanted to do.
“We didn’t come out of the gate well tonight, but we finished up strong. All in all, we‘re pleased to move on.”
Cedar Bluff will try to make it four victories in four tries against Collinsville this season.
The Tigers won 72-53 on Dec. 7 at Collinsville, 78-61 on Jan. 3 at home and 78-46 in the Area 14 finals.
“It’s going to be a tough game to play them the fourth time,” Carpenter said. “It represents our area well, at least.”
Collinsville (21-9) reached the regional final by beating Gaston 53-45 on Tuesday.
“We have to worry about their outside shooting,” Hardy said. “They’re a great shooting team, and we going to have to play good defense and get out on their shooters.”
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Jomedstar.