Calhoun County, AL – Southside, Cherokee County, Spring Garden, Hokes Bluff advance in Champions Girls Tournament; Anniston wins Pleasant Grove opener
Champions Girls Thanksgiving Classic
Southside 51, Jacksonville 24
Cherokee County 44, Ohatchee 42
Spring Garden 80, Ranburne 21
Hokes Bluff 41, Alexandria 31
Jacksonville vs. Ohatchee, 3 p.m.
Ranburne vs. Alexandria, 4:30 p.m.
Southside vs. Cherokee County, 6 p.m.
Spring Garden vs. Hokes Bluff, 7:30 p.m.
Pleasant Grove Girls Thanksgiving Tournament
Anniston 50, Fairfield 32
By Al Muskewitz
Every day for the past two weeks Ohatchee girls basketball coach Bryant Ginn has set aside the last few minutes of practice to go over end-game scenarios, knowing they’d come in handy at some point during the season and he wanted his girls prepared for when it did.
Little did he know the Lady Indians would need it right out of the gate. They didn’t quite pull it off, but they were prepared.
They lined up under their own goal with 3.9 seconds left in a two-point game Saturday and got the ball in to their secondary option. Alyssa Davis had a shot in the lane, but Cherokee County’s Neveah Gaidurgis got in behind her, blocked the shot and the clock ran out as the ball bounded away, preserving the Lady Warriors’ 44-42 victory in the Champions Girls Thanksgiving Classic.
“We’ve been working a lot on end-of-game situations the last two week; we do at least two a day,” Ginn said. “I do everything as if we’re down … because that’s the time you’ve got to be focused. We practice being down five a lot with one or two minutes to go and how we have to play it out. I think that helped us out a lot.”
“Coach Ginn is probably one of the best basketball coaches I’ve had,” Davis said. “He’s always thinking game-like practice. We’re not doing some drill that we don’t have to do; it’s always game-like stuff. We were kind of nervous, but we were mostly prepared.”
The Lady Indians never led in the game, but had gotten close several times, but just when it looked they were about to get over the hump, they’d turn it over or otherwise come up empty and Cherokee County would pull back ahead.
They trailed by eight with two minutes left and slowly worked their way back into it. The Lady Warriors helped by missing a parade of free throws down the stretch that would have extended the lead. They missed seven straight free throws between the 1:03 and 27 second mark and Ohatchee chipped away at the deficit.
Davis hit a shot in the lane with 13 seconds left to make it 42-41. The Lady Warriors finally ended their free throw drought when Audrey Haygood hit a pair to make it 44-41.
Whitney McFry went to the line with 5.2 seconds left in hopes of getting the Lady Indians closer. She hit the first shot and missed the second, but Jorda Crook and Cherokee County’s Ella Garmany tied up the rebound with the possession arrow favoring Ohatchee.
Everybody in the gym expected the inbounds play to go to Crook, but Ginn weighed his options. Lindsey Zurchin got it into Davis in the lane and Gaidurgis got over to knock the shot away.
“We got what we wanted,” Ginn said. “We just figured they were going to key Jorda so we went somewhere else. I thought it was going to be wide open. It was pretty open, I wouldn’t say wide open, but it was pretty open. We just got to finish it.”
“I had three seconds, so I should’ve taken a little more time and go up and fake it,” Davis said. “But when I shot it, the girls they were behind me and the girl in front of me hit my hand. It just happens, you know.”
Crook led all scorers with 21 points. In addition to her game-saving block, Gaidurgis led Cherokee County with 13 points.
CHEROKEE COUNTY 44, OHATCHEE 42
CHEROKEE COUNTY (1-0) – Mary Hayes Johnson 3 3-8 10, Audrey Haygood 1 3-6 5, Ella Garmany 3 1-2 8, Nevaeh Gaidurgis 6 1-4 13, Grayson Tucker 4 0-0 8, Raechel Russell 0 0-0 0, Vivian Connell 0 0-2 0, Deannia Starr 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 8-22 44.
OHATCHEE (0-1) – Tabi Davidson 0 0-0 0, Whitney McFry 3 1-2 8, Mia Waters 0 3-4 3, Priestly Davis 0 1-2 1, Kiana Garber 0 0-0 0, Jorda Crook 7 7-14 21, Lindsey Zurchin 1 0-0 3, Alyssa Davis 3 0-0 6. Totals 14 12-22 42.
|Cherokee Co.||16||9||11||8 –||44|
3-point goals: Cherokee Co. 2 (Johnson, Garmany); Ohatchee 2 (McFry, Barchin). Fouled out: Johnson, Davidson. Total fouls: Cherokee Co. 19, Ohatchee 19. Officials: Stringer, Baker, Caldwell.
SPRING GARDEN 80, RANBURNE 21: As far as season openers go, this one was about as good as Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin could have expected, a B-plus or A-minus in the way he looke at things.
The Lady Panthers scored a bunch of points, got around to playing defense the way Austin likes to see it once they got into the game and held the Lady Bulldogs to five points in the second half. They shot 55 percent from the floor and everyone who got in the game scored.
“We were able to put a lot of points on the boards, that always makes those look good early,” Austin said. “Like I told the girls before the game we kind of have a free-flowing system and it takes a while for it to come. We saw some things we needed to see offensively. Defensively I didn’t think our intensity was as good the first half as it needed to be … but I was pleased a little more in the second half with our peak effort.
“We talk about the different levels of standards that you can set with your first game. You’ve got set a standard somewhere, but it’s up to them to what level. Either way we’re going to continue to work hard, it’s the kind of work we have to do based on how we start this out. I give us somewhere around the middle. It was where it needed to be for us to be satisfied on both ends of the court.”
Kayley Kirk had a big game for the Lady Panthers. She scored 24 points without missing a shot. She went 10-for-10 from the field, hit two 3-pointers, and made both her free throws. It resulted in an incredible 34 efficiency points, more than twice the team’s standard for success.
It was two years ago this round Kirk suffered a torn ACL in her right knee slamming into the goal support here early in the second quarter of their tournament game against Oxford. It was such a bad experience – she missed that entire 2020-21 season – she was reluctant to return to the Champions floor and was noticeably uncomfortable playing Oxford again in last year’s tournament opener. There were no such feelings Saturday.
“Last year coming down there I was a nervous wreck,” she said. “Coming down there today, I honestly didn’t think anything about my knee. Last year, that’s all I could think about. This year I didn’t think much about it.
“I’m looking forward to this season. I can’t wait for Monday. Last year I was just trying to fall back in love with playing basketball and this year it’s just clicked.”
Ace Austin added 18 points and 10 assists to the winning box score. The all-state guard also drew the defensive assignment on Ranburne ace Briley Merrill and held her to eight points.
SPRING GARDEN 80, RANBURNE 21
RANBURNE (2-1) – Lilly Rice 0 0-0 0, Autumn Lovvorn 0 0-0 0, Jadie Phillips 1 0-0 2, Briley Merrill 2 4-6 8, Aubree Anglin 0 0-0 0, Maria Ralston 0 1-4 1, Brylee Bailey 2 0-0 4, Autumn Phillips 3 0-0 6. Totals 8 5-10 21.
SPRING GARDEN (1-0) – Ace Austin 9-15 1-1 18, Olivia Law 1-5 0-0 2, Kristen Lewis 0-2 1-2 1
Kayley Kirk 10-10 2-2 24, Chloe Rule 5-8 0-0 10, Avery Steward 1-4 0-0 3, Libby Brown 3-7 1-3 9
Montana Highfield 2-3 0-0 4, Maggie Reedy 1-4 0-0 2, Maggie Jarrett 3-6 0-1 6. Totals 35-64 5-9 80.
|Spring Garden||24||21||19||16 –||80|
3-point goals: Spring Garden 5-17 (Kirk 2-2, Austin 0-1, Steward 1-4, Brown 2-5, Jarrett 0-2, Law 0-1, Reedy 0-2). Rebounds: Spring Garden 33 (Jarrett 6, Kirk 5, Rule 5, Law 5). Total fouls: Ranburne 11, Spring Garden 14. Officials: Tillery, Baker, Smith.
SOUTHSIDE 51, JACKSONVILLE 24: Justin Bowen has played a big role in the Southside football team sharpening its defense the last two years and he’s doing the same thing as its girls basketball coach.
Bowen’s Lady Panthers held their third straight opponent to less than 25 points. In 96 minutes this young season they have allowed a total of 51 points. When Jacksonville’s Ashley Grant banked in a 3-pointer from just inside the midcourt line at the first quarter buzzer, it was the first field goal they had allowed since the second quarter of Friday’s 46-6 win over Hokes Bluff.
They’ve given up at least 10 points in a quarter only once so far this season – Saturday’s third quarter.
“They really had a good foundation,” Bowen said. “That’s kind of the thing at Southside, playing good defense in basketball. That was a foundation that was already set, but we’ve Kind of done some things this year a little different than they’ve done in the past.
“We’re pressing a lot and, trying to do something that I like to do football-wise, we switch it up a lot defensively.”
The Lady Panthers just don’t put the clamps down defensively, they also use those stops to get the offense moving. They recorded 18 turnovers Saturday, off which they scored 14 points.
Grant led Jacksonville with 16 points, but was the Lady Golden Eagles scorer in double figures. Graceanne Rose led Southside with 16 points and nine rebounds. Madison Shaw added 15 points.
SOUTHSIDE 51, JACKSONVILLE 24
JACKSONVILLE (0-3) – Ashley Grant 8-18 0-1 16, Miarah Hardy 1-2 0-0 3, Alexis Phillips 0-4 2-3 2, Ontarriah Braxton 1-3 0-0 2, Dee Prothro 0-3 1-4 1, Mya Swain 0-4 0-1 0, Halaina Lozano 0-5 0-0 0, Olivia Rowan 0-0 0-0 0, Rachel Sanders 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 8-40 3-9 24.
SOUTHSIDE (3-0) – Graceanne Rose 8-9 0-2 16, Madison Shaw 6-11 0-0 15, Sarakate Yancey 3-5 1-2 7, Mallory Brooks 1-3 3-4 5, Lexi Darnell 1-5 0-0 2, Emma Knowlton 1-1 0-0 2, Meredith Bain 1-1 0-0 2, Leah Lewis 1-2 0-0 2, Laylah Davis 0-1 0-0 0, Jovi Marble 0-3 0-2 0, Rylann Shaw 0-1 0-0 0, Kaitlyn Hughes 0-1 0-0 0, Niliyah Potter 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-43 4-10 51.
3-point goals: Jacksonville 5-26 (Grant 4-14, Hardy 1-2, Phillips 0-1, Prothro 0-1, Swain 0-3, Lozano 0-4, Sanders 0-1); Southside 3-14 (M. Shaw 3-6, Yancey 0-1, Brooks 0-2, Lewis 0-1, Davis 0-1, Marble 0-2, Hughes 0-1). Rebounds: Jacksonville 22 (Prothro 8); Southside 41 (Rose 9). Total fouls: Jacksonville 14, Southside 14. Officials: Stringer, Whiteside, Caldwell.
HOKES BLUFF 41, ALEXANDRIA 31: The Lady Eagles bounced back from scoring only six points the night before to take the lead early and then turn away a threat in the second half.
A 3-pointer by Jill Cockrell late in the third quarter drew the Lady Cubs to 30-28, but Hokes Bluff’s Kayla Taylor scored the next two buckets and the Lady Eagles stayed ahead the rest of the game. Taylor, one of the team’s three available seniors, led all scorers with 18 points.
“We’ve been talking all week about building a culture,” Hokes Bluff coach Evan Talbot said. “Last night (against Southside), we put that behind us.
“Our (four) seniors have really led. A lot of people don’t understand the pressure they’re under and the expectations they’re under because we have such a gap. We have no juniors or no sophomores. It’s all freshmen and eighth-graders (and the seniors).”
Jordyn Walker led Alexandria with 14.
HOKES BLUFF 41, ALEXANDRIA 31
HOKES BLUFF (2-1) – Mary Davenport 0 0-0 0, Chloe Dodd 1 5-9 7, Haylen Marbut 1 1-2 4, Kayla Traylor 5 8-13 18, Dixie Saylor 0 0-0 0, Haley Kate Wellingham 2 4-10 8, Raya Steward 0 0-0 0, Pressley Wall 0 0-0 0, Emma Doss 1 0-2 2, Ava Dodd 1 0-6 2. Totals 11 18-42 41.
ALEXANDRIA (0-1) – Jordyn Walker 4 5-9 14, Kirsten Heathcock 1 1-2 3, Jill Cockrell 2 0-0 6, Cassidy Hartsfield 1 0-0 3, Charlee Parris 1 0-0 2, Kailey Dickerson 0 0-2 0, Sumira Duncan 1 0-2 2, Makayla Brewster 0 1-2 1. Totals 10 7-17 31.
|Hokes Bluff||10||14||8||9 –||41|
3-point goals: Hokes Bluff 1 (Marbut); Alexandria 4 (Walker, Cockrell 2, Hartsfield). Technical fouls: Alexandria coach Kiker. Fouled out: Doss, Walker, Heathcock. Total fouls: Hokes Bluff 16, Alexandria 28. Officials: Tillery, Smith, Montgomery.
Pleasant Grove Tournament
PLEASANT GROVE –Tykeria Smith scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Anniston over Fairfield 50-32 in the Pleasant Grove Thanksgiving Tournament.
Smith was one of three Lady Bulldogs scoring in double figures. Serena Hardy had a full box score with 14 points, six rebounds, seven steals and four assists. Akayla Perry had 10 points.
The Lady Bulldogs will play Park Crossing Monday at 6 p.m.