By Charles Prince
The North Jefferson News
ONEONTA — The Gardendale High boy’s basketball team doesn’t have a stuttering problem, but they do keep repeating themselves.
For the third straight season, the Rockets won the Oneonta Boy’s Christmas tournament.
In Saturday night’s final, Gardendale used a 16-6 run in the second quarter to break open a two-point game and went onto rout Guntersville, 67-50, for the championship.
Gardendale junior Nigel Ramsey was named tournament MVP, while teammates Zac Davis and Drew Faile were named to the All-tourney team.
“I thought we played one of our better games of the season tonight,” Gardendale head coach Bill Griffin said. “Guntersville is a good basketball team. We got off to a slow start, but the second quarter was a good quarter for us. Later, we struggled when they put the pressure on us, but we managed to win by 17 points. Beating a good basketball team by that many points makes me really proud of the kids for the way they played this week.”
Gardendale lead by only two points,w when the Rockets went on a 16-6 run to increase the advantage to 31-19 at the half.
After three quarters the Rockets had built a 45-28 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats pulled within 12 points five different times, but never cut the margin below double digits.
Gardendale had four scorers in double figures, including MVP Ramsey, who poured in a game-high 23 points in the final.
“The MVP was a surprise, but the big thing is we won the tournament again,” Ramsey said. “We played well all four nights.”
When Ramsey wasn’t scoring, he was setting up teammates for baskets. He passed off a game-high eight assists.
The MVP also grabbed seven rebounds and came up with four steals.
Davis added 12 points and grabbed five rebounds. Hunter Graveman scored 11 and passed off four assists.
Faile added 10 points, eight rebounds and blocked three shots.
Clint Guin scored five, Alan Jackson added four and Trey Hilliard had two points.
Gardendale improved to 12-3 overall as they took their fifth consecutive holiday tournament title dating back to 2005.
The streak began in Dec. 2005 when the Rockets won the Oneonta tourney for the first time. Then in Nov. 2006, they took the Hanceville Boy’s Thanksgiving tournament title. Then in December of the same year, they won a second Oneonta title. In Nov. 2007, they won a second straight Hanceville Thanksgiving title before their defending their title again on Saturday night. The 2005 and 2006 titlists were lead by a core group of six players who graduated last May. This year’s club features an entirely new starting lineup.
“This team is really been a surprise to me,” Griffin said. “We’ve struggled at times during the season. We lost six seniors, including four starters off the team that won this tournament last year. We should be improving and hopefully winning this tournament can help us get better in the second half of the season.”
“We faced some good teams here, but we’ll face even tougher teams in our area, so we’ve got to get better from here on out,” Ramsey said.
By Charles Prince