By Jonathan Deal
If Tanner is tied or behind and has the ball last in today’s Class 2A semifinals, you can bet Jonathon Fletcher is getting the ball. Known as “JonJon” by friends and teammates, he might as well be called “clutch” after Saturday’s Northwest Regional final.
Fletcher hit a fade-away 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to send Tanner back to Birmingham to defend its 2A basketball title. It was the second time the junior has hit a game-winning shot as time expired this season.
“You’ve got to have confidence in yourself no matter what,” said Fletcher. “Even if I was nervous, I couldn’t show it. I knew my team was behind me.”
On Saturday, Fletcher was confident, calm and collected with the score tied and 2.1 on the clock. He had already hit three of six shots from behind the arc against Vincent.
What was one more?
“We go over that play all the time,” said Fletcher. “I’ve probably hit it once or twice. When we drew it up, I had an idea of where I was going to catch the ball. I was over by coach when I shot it.”
Fletcher, along with seniors Desmond Love and Blake Whitt are the only returning players from last year’s state championship team. The three were mainly role players last year but have filled bigger roles on the least experienced team head coach Chris Whitt has taken to Birmingham in nine trips at the Final 48.
“The change I’ve noticed is he doesn’t get down on himself if he misses a shot,” Whitt said about Fletcher. “If he’s not playing well, he bounces right back.”
Tanner will go for its third state championship in four years when the Rattlers tip off against Elba at 4:30 today.