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Tigers advance at south regional, 64-58

MOBILE – Greenville High School is going where, quite possibly, no basketball team in school history has gone before.

The Tigers beat Faith 64-58 on Wednesday in the Class 5A South Regional tournament as Nick McHenry scored a game-high 25 points and Daryl Starks came off the bench to grab 11 rebounds.

The Tigers play LeFlore, 70-59 winners over Wilcox-Central, in the regional finals on Friday. Game time is 2 p.m. at the University of South Alabama’s Mitchell Center.

“This is historic,” said GHS head coach Bryant Marlow. “We’re excited to be here and very excited to come in here and get a win.”

The Rams came into the game wanting to feed the ball inside to power forward Chris Casher and get the Tigers’ inside players in foul trouble early. That plan worked to perfection as starting forward Za’Darius Smith was saddled with three quick personal fouls four minutes into the game. That forced Marlow and assistant coach Jerome Harris to go to Starks who, just a few months ago, was playing with the junior varsity team.

The sophomore came to play, pulling down 10 rebounds on the defense and scoring seven points.

Starks said he wasn’t nervous.

“I just wanted to play aggressive and grab rebounds,” he said.

Marlow said Starks made the most of his 19 minutes in the game.

“For Daryl Starks to come out and play for us like that, do what we asked him to do, get rebounds and make free throws…that was special,” he said.

The Tigers broke a 21-21 tie late in the second period as McHenry, Starks and Jamie Williams combined for eight points before Lorenzo McClain’s three-pointer at the buzzer cut Greenville’s lead to 29-24 at halftime.

Faith started the third period hot, tying the game at one point 29-29, but Greenville was able to match the Rams on offense. A bounce pass on a fastbreak from McHenry to Mikwese Claybourne gave GHS a 42-35 lead at the end of the period.

Marlow said the Tigers came into the game wanting to show Faith both zone defense and man-to-man. That, and plenty of missed opportunities by the Rams on offense, said Faith head coach John Price, was the reason the Tigers won.

“We missed way too many opportunities with lay-ups and easy baskets,” Price said. “Give credit to Greenville they did a good job of contesting us.”

A three-pointer by Lamiquell Roberts cut Greenville’s advantage to 57-54 with 1:35 left in the game, but long rebounds off missed shots by Faith led to easy transition points for the Tigers. GHS built a seven-point lead on a lay-up by McHenry with 47 seconds remaining.

Williams had 12 points for Greenville and grabbed nine rebounds. Claybourne added 11.

Casher led Faith with 19 points.