By Erik Harris
PINSON — The Class 5A Northeast sub-regional collision between No. 10 Ramsay and Pinson Valley was expected to be one of the best around Friday night, a reliable alternate to all the Valentine’s Day traffic.
But for the host Indians, it started and ended with nothing more than a broken heart.
Coach Kelly Cheatham took his Rams (20-13) into Mike Dutton Gymnasium for the opening round of the playoffs and advanced for the second season in a row, this time by a final of 80-60.
Pinson Valley (18-11) was fresh off a Class 5A, Area 11 championship win over rival Center Point and had a tough time getting the lid off the rim early. Meanwhile on the other end of the floor, Ramsay worked with a wide-open cylinder that allowed it to take a 19-point lead after the first eight minutes of play.
“When you start out in a 27-8 hole, you don’t win many basketball games that way,” said Pinson Valley head coach Clint Argo. “We didn’t execute anything on the offensive end of the floor for the first period and a half of basketball.”
Though the Indians slowed the initial bleeding, their visitors simply played too well for them to make a run and get back in the game.
Cheatham got excellent production out of his starters, especially those in the backcourt. Jonathan Etheridge led the Rams in scoring with 17, Seth Reynolds pitched in with 16 and Jordan Millsap added another 15. A.J. Luke and Mitchell Baldwin both reached double figures, giving the starting five a solid 69 points combined.
Pinson Valley’s starters found 48 points. Senior Zach Jackson and junior Donevan Waldrop did most of the damage, as they were the only two Indians to reach double digits. Jackson led all scorers with 18 points.
The road atmosphere had no effect on Ramsay, likely because it was pushed all season by a tough schedule, which saw it find wins against Class 6A No. 1 Mountain Brook, Class 5A No. 2 Wenonah, Class 5A No. 4 Parker and a 19-4 Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa squad.
“They’ve beat some of the best out there,” Argo said. “They’re not a bad basketball team and you give them a lead like that, it’s hard, it doesn’t matter what we do because at that point, all they have to do is match what we do.”