After scoring a major upset, and then settling for district runner-up, the Seahawk varsity basketball team will be heading west tonight, to square off against the 17-7 Vernon Yellow Jackets at 8 p.m. ET.
District champ Port St. Joe hosts Malone at 7 p.m. ET.
On Friday night, in their opener in the District 4 Class 1A regional tournament at Bozeman, the fourth-seeded Seahawks shocked top-seeded downing Crossroad Academy, 52-51.
By scoring the win, the 15-6 Seahawks ousted from post-season play the top-seeded 20-6 Scorpions, a Quincy private school that had gone undefeated, a perfect 12-0, in district games during the regular season.
Included in the regular season was a Dec. 10 win in Quincy, in which they scorched the Seahawks by 31 points, 73-42, and then on Jan. 7 in Eastpoint, a 74-58 downing of the Seahawks.
But Coach Kameron Ashabranner’s team was having none of that Friday against a team ranked third in the state.
After falling behind 13-10 after the first quarter, the Hawks built a two-point lead, 26-24 at the half, and a one-point lead 37-36 after three quarters. Both teams scored 15 in the final stanza.
"I think all the players bought in on our game plan," said Ashabranner. "We played really hard.
"We never gave up on a single possession," he said. "I think Crossroad came in and didn’t take it serious. We turned it up and played even harder in the third and fourth quarters."
The one bad spot was a mediocre 18 for 33 from the free throw line. "I think it shows we can win the next four ball games if we play really well," said the coach.
Junior Isaac Robinson led the team with 21 points, followed by 15 from junior Eden Brathwaite. Sophomore Jerymiah Stephens scored 10, while senior Grady Escobar had 3, sophomore Carter Kembro 2 and senior Ayden Pearson 1.
Robinson led the team with 15 rebounds, followed by Pearson with 7, Brathwaite and senior Isaiah Decoursey each with 4, Stephens with 3 and Kembro with 2.
The district championship game Saturday night against Port St. Joe, which had downed Blountstown in the semis, was a different story.
After taking a 25-23 lead at the half, the Tiger Sharks outscored the Seahawks 19-10 in the third and went on to a 64-53 win.
The big difference was free throws, with St. Joe shooting 48, nearly twice as many as the Seahawks, who drained 19 of 26, or 72 percent.
"They shot eight free throws in a row at one point," said Ashabranner. "St Joe played really hard.
Four of the five Seahawk starters fouled out, first Brathwaite in the third, then Pearson, Robinson and Escobar. Tow technical were called on St. Joe, and three on the Hawks.
"I didn’t blame it on the referees. It affected the way they played but that’s basketball," said Ashabranner. "It was mostly just frustration, the game was very tense.
"Carter Kembro had four fouls," he said. "We had just started the third and we had fouled them nine times already, to our one. It was a free throw game."
The coach said while "there could be some issues" with the officiating, he wants to move on. "I’m fine with the outcome," he said.
Ashabranner said this was only the second time Pearson fouled out this season, and a first for Brathwaite since he’s been playing for Franklin County.
"Isaac was sitting early," he said. "We kind of lost our composure. I’m moving forward with it."
Robinson led the team with 12 points, with Pearson and Kembro each scoring 10, and Brathwaite and Stephens each scoring 7. Decoursey added 4, and Escobar 3.
"We kind of lost composure there for a while," said Ashabranner. " I feel like the guys didn’t understand how bad Port St Joe wanted to win. They played really hard.
"St. Joe was really fired up. I don’t think we overlooked them," he said. "They came out and they executed well, playing without Lamarius Martin."
Another former Seahawk, Trey Jones hit two big treys and was tough on the glass, he said.
Ashabranner said rebounding will be the key tonight.
"Not giving them second or third shots," he said. "I feel like the guys have done a lot more than people have expected. It’s a matter of staying focused; it’s getting to where we really have to dig deep.
"We’ve got to ask ourselves how bad we want it. You don’t have time to worry about a whole lot and play hardest at game night," Ashabranner said. "I think we’re going to be able keep going. We’re going to match up with Vernon well."