Jasper earns first ever regional win

No. 1 Fairfield next up for Vikings

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HANCEVILLE — Jasper’s getting pretty good at this underdog thing.

The Vikings took down their second straight top 10 opponent on Saturday, earning a spot in the Northwest Regional Tournament final in the process.

Jasper held off a late rally from No. 6 Lawrence County in a 60-52 victory at Wallace State-Hanceville’s Tom Drake Coliseum for its first ever regional tournament victory.

Next up for the Vikings is the regional championship against No. 1 Fairfield at 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday. The winner advances to the State Basketball Tournament in Birmingham.

Brent Geeter starred for Jasper on Saturday. He scored the Vikings’ first eight points and connected on a pair of clutch 3-pointers that helped Jasper build a double-digit lead in the third quarter.

Geeter also provided the dagger down the stretch with a layup and a breakaway dunk in the final 31 seconds.

He finished with a game-high 23 points along with three rebounds and three steals. Anthony Harris had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds while John David Harrell added 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Lawrence County jumped out to an early 6-0 lead, but Geeter’s offense kept the Vikings close. The Vikings never trailed after the second quarter.

“I think we came out a little nervous, but we were able to get our composure and do what we had to do to win the game,” Jasper coach Robert Epps said. “As long as our kids think we can win, that’s all that matters. Our guys are willing to fight. We are going to give you our best punch. You make knock us out, but we are going to go out swinging.”

Jasper (20-12) will face its stiffest test so far on Wednesday. No. 1 Fairfield (26-5) advanced to the regional final with a 46-43 win over No. 5 East Limestone. The Tigers have lost just one game to 5A competition this season, falling at No. 3 Woodlawn.

The two teams met in the sub-region round of the playoffs last year with Fairfield getting a 47-39 win at Jasper.

The Vikings head into the game with plenty of confidence. Jasper upset defending state champ Wenonah to get to the regional tournament.

“We are real confident. We feel like we’ve got a chance,” senior Anthony Harris said.

“We have to keep our intensity up,” Geeter added.

On Saturday, the Vikings and Red Devils were tied 12-12 after the opening quarter. Jasper grabbed the lead for good with 1:54 left in the first half on a pair of free throws from Geeter that gave the Vikings a 24-23 lead.

Jasper led 28-23 at the half and didn’t trail the rest of the way. That doesn’t mean the win came easy.

Jasper started pulling away in the third quarter when Geeter hit back-to-back 3-pointers from opposite wings. The second one pushed Jasper’s lead to 42-29 with 3:25 left in the period. Lawrence County cut the gap to 46-38 going into the final quarter.

The Red Devils kept chipping away at the lead behind Malik Strickland and Ty Hutto.

Hutto made back to back shots and Strickland cut the gap to a point at 49-48 with two free throws at the 3:29 mark of the final quarter.

That’s when Jasper turned to senior Garrett Pschirer. He pushed Jasper’s lead back to four points with a 3-pointer. Lawrence County closed to two points at 52-50 with 2:19 remaining after two more Strickland free throws. Pschirer again answered with a long-range shot, giving Jasper a five-point lead. Lawrence County didn’t get within striking distance again.

Pschirer finished with six points for Jasper, Trinity Epps had four points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals and Drew Martin had two points.

For Lawrence County (27-5), Hutto had 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals, Malik Strickland had 13 points and six rebounds, Tayi Strickland had 10 points and 10 rebounds and Garrett Lee had eight points and nine rebounds.