Carroll punched its ticket to the Downtown Hoops Classic in late December by winning the eight-team Turkey Classic at the Dothan Civic Center on Tuesday.
The Eagles defeated Greenville 69-49 in the championship game, just hours after smashing Cottonwood 68-36 in the semifinals.
Greenville defeated Barbour County in the other semifinal, 85-70, getting a little more than an hour break before facing Carroll for the title.
As the winner of the Turkey Classic, Carroll gets the final spot in the Hoops Classic field for the 16-team, single-elimination tournament beginning Dec. 26. It will be the Eagles first appearance in the tournament since 2019.
“Not being in the Hoops Classic was a humbling experience,” Carroll coach Mike Henry said. “We were really wanting to be in it last year. To be back in it is an awesome feeling.
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“I can’t wait to go into the locker room and celebrate with these guys. I may even do my little two-step. Our guys seized the moment and I was so happy they did.”
A key for Carroll was slowing sensational Greenville guard Tyler Mallory, who scored 47 against Barbour County. He was contained to 16 points against a tenacious Eagles’ defense.
“I don’t want him (Mallory) touching the ball,” Henry said in the huddle during one timeout.
Henry knew all about Mallory going into the matchup.
“Fortunately we played them in the sub-region last year and we know how talented he is,” Henry said. “I think he scored over 50 points one game last week.
“We really wanted to not let him beat us. I was glad to see us neutralize him some.”
Mallory didn’t record a point until the 1:13 mark of the opening quarter when he drilled a 3-pointer. By then, Carroll had sprinted out to a 16-5 lead and led 18-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Carroll post man Zavier Womack worked well in the paint during the first half, showing good strength under the boards in compiling all of his 13 points in the first two quarters, which included connecting on five free throw tries.
“He was a big difference in the first half getting some easy finishes and put-backs and having a presence in the paint,” Henry said. “They were undersized and it was big that Womack played the way he did tonight.”
The Eagles led 40-22 at halftime and kept things going after intermission, though the Tigers made some runs to keep it interesting.
Greenville was within 48-37 with 2:25 to play in the third quarter following a put-back by Kendre Bullard, but Carroll’s Ameer Childree followed with a strong drive for a basket while being fouled and knocked down the free throw.
Mallory hit a 3-pointer from the wing to begin the fourth quarter, making it 55-42, but Carroll then got back-to-back baskets from Takoda McLeod and Childree to keep the Eagles in charge.
McLeod led Carroll with 14 points, while Nate Elliott and Womack followed with 13 each and Miles Ansley with 10.
Once Carroll was in command late, the Eagles slowed things down.
“People don’t like to see you slow it down,” Henry said. “In basketball, there comes a time you had the opportunity to shoot and score, but then there was also a time for you to manage the game. I thought it would be the best way to manage the game because they need the ball back in their hands.”
Carroll 68, Cottonwood 36: Lakeith Person led the Eagles in the semifinals with 16 points, while Peyton Plott scored 15 and Takoda McLeod 13.
Cottonwood was led by Harrison Lewis, Jay Garrett and Cain Campbell with eight points each.
Greenville 85, Barbour County 70: The Tigers were led by Tyler Mallory with 47 points in the semifinal matchup.
Barbour County was led by Lennox Myers with 21 points and 13 rebounds and Dy’Qwayshon Grubbs with 12 points.