There was plenty of pressure in the final minutes of Montgomery Academy’s area game at Trinity, but Jamal Cooper shrugged it off.
“I felt a whole lot of pressure, but I’m used to that from football and other basketball seasons,” said Cooper. "I know my team needed me to come up big, so I did and made the play."
Late in the fourth quarter, Jamal hit a 3 pointer to give the Eagles a temporary lead, and then hit a key shot to take the lead and keep the Wildcats from scoring for the last minute in a 51-46 win by the Eagles at Captain Jack Court on Friday.
“We’ve got some kids who will fight all night, and they know how to win down the stretch, and Jamal, in particular, has seen multiple seasons of varsity basketball, so he’s been through all the battles,” said Montgomery Academy coach Jeremy Arant. “He really knows what I expect late in the game and how we plan to play, and he made some really important buckets late to give us the lead. He’s a special player and a special kid.”
The win lifted Montgomery Academy (4-5) into a first-place tie with Catholic at 1-0 in 3A Area 6 heading into Tuesday’s battle between the two teams at Montgomery Academy. Trinity and PCA, who play each other on Tuesday in Prattville, fell to 0-1 in area play.
“It’s important to win our first region game, and it can give us momentum going into Tuesday’s game against Catholic on Tuesday,” said Cooper. “We really feel like we can win our region, and this is just step one.”
The leading scorer for the Eagles was sophomore Cole Caddell, who scored 19 points along with five 3-point shots and six rebounds. Caddell had to step up big after other team leaders began to get in foul trouble.
Cooper had 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals. JaShawn Cooper scored seven points along with 10 rebounds. Freshman DJ Vinson scored four points along with seven rebounds and three blocks.
The game was tight the whole way, and both teams used a rapid-fire offense to score points quickly. Neither team really gained an edge offensively, and the scores were within five points of each other after every quarter.
The first quarter was more of a defensive struggle, with the Eagles holding a slight lead of 10-8. Trinity then held a slight 26-22 lead after the second quarter. The Eagles regained the lead by a score of 31-29 after the third quarter. Then, both offenses really began to start clicking in the fourth quarter and Jamal Cooper’s shots late in the game helped to seal a 51-46 win for the Eagles.