6A Boys Regional SE: McGill-Toolen, #4, beats Spanish Fort, #7, in the final
McGill-Toolen eldest Barry Dunning Jr. doesn’t let the pressure bother him.
“Never,” Dunning said. “I have good mentors and good support. I’m just trying to stay calm. Who doesn’t like being under pressure? It means you are doing something right. I thought there was a calm around all of us today.
The Arkansas signee scored 27 points and had 18 rebounds in an MVP performance that led No. 4 McGill-Toolen to a 65-50 win over No. 7 Spanish Fort in the South Regional Finals. is in Class 6A at Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum on Tuesday night.
This victory sends the Yellow Jackets back to the last four in Birmingham for the first time since 2018.
“It really means a lot,” said McGill-Toolen coach Phillip Murphy. “We had a very difficult season last year. A lot of things happened that people didn’t know about and of course we lost our beloved coach (Mark Shelley) to COVID. Our season ended at Spanish Fort, so we had extra motivation.
The Toros beat McGill 90-66 in the sub-regional round a year ago.
It was a whole different story on Tuesday night.
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The Yellow Jackets (29-4) went on an 11-0 run to take a definite lead late in the first quarter and early in the second. Dunning scored seven of his points on a 3-point field goal and consecutive field goals during the push. His jumper gave McGill a 23-10 lead with 5:40 left in the half.
“Since the start of the playoffs, Barry has been different,” Murphy said. “He’s been through a lot. He was under a lot of pressure. He has a heavy weight on his shoulders. He hears all the overrated chants and people say he’s not all that because he’s going to Arkansas. I am going to tell you something. He it’s true all that.”
Spanish Fort’s tempo was hurt in the first half after star goalkeeper and Citadel signing Colby McAllister went to the bench with two fouls. The Toros (24-8) also lost starting position player Eli Clark to injury early in the game. He didn’t come back.
Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets continued to press on, leading by as much as 15 points in the half and holding a 30-17 lead at the break.
“I told our team coming in that we had to be the aggressor today,” Murphy said. “We wanted to be the aggressor for four quarters, and I think anyone who was in the gym today knows we were just that.”
Spanish Fort, trying to return to the last four for the second season in a row, stayed close throughout the third quarter. The Toros reduced the lead to seven on several occasions – the last time to 43-36 to DJ Houston’s 3 late in the period. But Gavin Veasey scored to close the frame, and Spanish Fort never came close to nine the rest of the way.
“It was not our day,” said Toros coach Jimbo Tolbert. “We gave up way too many offensive rebounds. Sixteen is way too many. It’s a game with 15 points at the end. This was clearly the difference. They are hungry, and it shows. Their guys played well and made it difficult for us to do anything offensively. Barry Dunning is amazing.
Game Star: Dunning was 10 of 17 from the field, 1 of 2 on 3-point range and 6 of 8 from the free throw line. He finished the first quarter with only 3s to give McGill a 17-10 lead and gradually took control of the rest of the way.
Stat Sheet: McGill-Toolen — Myles Murphy followed Dunning on the scoring list with 15 points. He also had 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. Devin McCaine had 10 points. Bennett Russ had 6 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. strong spanish — Kolby Horace led Spanish Fort with 21. McAllister finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds.
By the numbers: McGill was 25 of 52 from the field (46%), 4 of 12 from 3-point range and 13 of 17 from the foul line. The Yellow Jackets outshot the rebound battle 45-21 and had 17 second-chance points against Spanish Fort’s 4. They also had 15 fastbreak points against Spanish Fort’s 4. The Toros were 17 of 48 from the field, 4 of 22 from 3-point range and 12 of 18 from the foul line.
Did you know? McGill-Toolen won the Class 7A state title in 2016.
Coach language: “I thought we were tight heading into our Sweet 16 game (an overtime win over Benjamin Russell), and it showed. Tonight we were relaxed and almost from the first tip you could tell the game was over. -Murphy.
They said it:
“Of course it feels good, but the work is not finished yet. We have to go back and get to work and get ready for next week. – Relaunch.
“I’m so proud of our guys. To fire four starters from the state runner-up team and only have two to play through injury all year, it was a next-man-type deal. We had no excuses this year. We came to work every day and got better as the season progressed. Spanish Fort will be fine. – Tolbert on the team lost starting point guard Carl Fauntroy and postman Cam Keshock to injuries before the season.
Next : McGill-Toolen will face Huffman in the Class 6A state semifinals in Birmingham at 10:30 a.m. on March 2.