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Lions fall in Final Four

Basketball

Earl Moorer (left), Head Coach Tito Baker (center) and Antijuan Ball (right) voice their views of Wednesday’s game after playing Madison Academy.

The Lions (16-16) advanced to the Final Four on Feb. 24 after securing their title as South Regional champions last Saturday against Choctaw County, but they couldn’t overcome Madison Academy in the first Birmingham showdown.

Central High School’s boys basketball team, led by head coach Tito Baker, the boys faced Madison Academy (21-11) in the Class 3A tournament located at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center.

Screaming fans cheered to the sound of squeaking shoes finding their grip on a freshly polished floor as the two teams contended for possession the ball.

Antijuan Ball, a 6-foot-2 center for the Lions, showed tremendous effort keeping the ball from reaching the hands of Madison Academy with a total of eight rebounds in Wednesdays game.

He also led the team with 12 points.

The team utilized its quickness and taller players to keep the ball from being turned over to the Mustang, but as Madison Academy applied constant pressure to Central’s offense, the Lions “made shots that just would not fall,” said Baker.

Central lost some momentum in the second half as the Mustangs’ pace quickened in the third period and achieved a 63-36 win in the final.

“We just didn’t bring forward the game we brought in practice,” said Earl Moorer, the Lions 6-foot-2 senior.

Baker said he wants the feeling of the Lions returning to the Final Four to act as motivation to achieve victory in next season’s tournament.

“Coaches, parents and students all made sacrifices to help these boys get to the tournament. Now that we’re here, it will be easier for us to find our way back,” said Baker.