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March 21, 2008R.C. Hatch's Frankie Sullivan, who was named Alabama MVP, had 27 points to lead Alabama to a 101-99 victory over Mississippi in the Alabama-Mississippi boys All-Star basketball game Thursday night.
Alabama turned up the defensive intensity in the final minutes. Trailing 89-84 after a pair of free throws from Mississippi's Chris Wallace of Wingfield, Alabama went on a 15-4 run to earn the win.
"Defense and rebounding was our focus," said Sullivan. "We had a great group of guys who bonded and we wanted to bring it back to Alabama because they had won the last two."
The Alabama victory evened the series at nine wins each.
Alabama started the game-winning spurt with a pair of dunks, one by R.C. Hatch's Nicholas Johnson and another by Northview's Xavier Gibson.
Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa's Wayne Dedrick tipped in Johnson's miss for a 90-89 Alabama lead. Mississippi tied the game on a free throw by Latavious Williams of Starkville, but two free throws from Alabama's Sullivan gave the squad a lead it wouldn't surrender.
Mississippi didn't quit, closing the margin to 94-93 on two free throws from Terry Church of Lanier and another free throw by Romero Osby of Northeast Lauderdale. Alabama extended its lead by scoring five straight points before a pair of Mississippi 3-pointers in the last 17 seconds by Dale Hughes of New Hope and Osby accounted for the final margin.
"If we would have played the way we practiced we would have won," said Mississippi MVP Hughes. "In practices we went with a lot of big guys then toward the end we were going with a lot guards. It took us out of our flow."
The two teams battled evenly throughout the contest and were tied 44-all at the half. Alabama scored the first six points of the second half, but Mississippi answered with six straight to tie it again.
Behind Hughes' 16 second half points, Mississippi slowly built its lead until the final minutes when Sullivan and the Alabama guards took over.
Auburn signee Sullivan led all scorers with 27 points, including 17 in the second half, and grabbed 10 rebounds. Sullivan also converted three baskets from 3-point range and handed out four assists. Dedrick added 22 points, Johnson scored 12, and Gibson added 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Hughes tallied 24 for Mississippi, including making 6-of-10 from 3-point range, while Church added 17 points. Rashanti Harris, a 6-foot-10 center from New Hope, and Osby each scored 12 points, Harris also led Mississippi with 12 rebounds.