GARDENDALE — Gardendale jumped on its rockets to shoot out to an early lead, then let Pinson Valley work its way back and almost steal the victory away Monday.
But the Indians couldn’t quite seal the deal despite at least three chances in the last three minutes, and the Rockets escaped with a 72-65 victory in what is traditionally the regular-season finale for both teams.
It’s a situation that Gardendale has found itself in several times against Pinson, as coach Ryan Griffin recalled.
“It’s something we’ve done a few times against them, and against teams in general,” Griffin said. “I think we’re two even teams, and we got out front quickly, then they came back.”
The Rockets amassed a lead of as many as 17 points in the first half. But the Tribe scraped its way back largely through the scoring of Zach Jackson, who scored 13 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. He went 11-for-12 at the free throw line.
In fact, Pinson had an outstanding night at the charity stripe, hitting 20-of-24 (83 percent).
But the big early deficit was simply too big a hole for the Indians to climb out of.
“We lost it in the first period,” Pinson coach Clint Argo said. “We outscored them the rest of the game, but when you give someone a 23-6 lead that early and then you decide to start playing basketball, it’s tough to come back and win... But we finished how we needed to finish to get back in.”
Donevan Waldrop scored 16 for the Indians, all in the first half. Allen Williams led the Rockets with 17 points, and Quantarrius Wilson added 16 points and nine rebounds.
The Rockets open area tournament play Friday at Huffman, as they take on Hewitt-Trussville. The Tribe goes to Center Point, where they play against Springville in the opener.
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