Bears Win Third Straight Region Title


By: Nick Hall

The Plainview Bears came out hot Wednesday night at Pete Mathews Coliseum in Jacksonville. The defending state champs jumped on the Piedmont Bulldogs early as the teams battled for a trip to the AHSAA Final Four in Birmingham. All-tournament teammates Haden White and tournament MVP, Caden Millican, set the pace for Plainview right out of the gate. White knocked down a 3-pointer just 30 seconds in, followed by another less than two minutes later. Just 20 seconds after that, Caden Millican buried a three of his own. Then Plainview got aggressive in the paint with layups by Caden Millican and Koby Tinker to give the Bears a 15-3 lead midway of the first period. Piedmont battled back with a jumper and layup by Alex Odam, which were quickly answered by another White 3-pointer. Then it was T.J. Fairs’ turn to try and cut the lead for the Bulldogs. Fairs knocked down a short jumper and a trey to cut the lead to six before Caden Millican hit a layup to end the first period with a 20-12 Bears lead. Caden continued to be strong in the paint with two layups early in the second period as well as knocking down another 3-pointer a few minutes later. Willingham and Jackson Hosch also sank baskets from behind the arc. That combined with successful trips to the free throw line by Tinker and Dane Haymon and a late layup by Willingham sent the Bulldogs to the locker room with a 39-24 halftime deficit. The third period saw Piedmont come out in a matchup zone that seemed to frustrate the Bears as they only managed eight points during the entire period. The Bulldogs cut the lead to seven midway of the third, but White knocked down two more 3-pointers at a crucial point in the game. However, Piedmont was undeterred and cut the 13-point lead back to seven by the end of the third. Threes from Caden and Cole Millican, as well as a three by Dane Haymon and two layups by Tinker, held off another Bulldog rally in the final period, and sealed the win at 57-45. White led the Bears scoring with 15 points, followed by Caden Millican with 12. Tinker had eight points. Cole Millican had seven, while Haymon, Tinker and Willingham each netted five. “Piedmont did a phenomenal job of clawing their way back into the game,” said Plainview head coach Robi Coker. “They just continued to battle, and we have a lot of respect for those guys.”