E.A. Sports Today

Calhoun County Girls Tournament Preview

Jacksonville, Anniston head of class; headed for final?

CALHOUN COUNTY GIRLS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
(All games at Pete Mathews Coliseum, Jacksonville)

First-round games
No. 8 Jacksonville Christian vs. No. 9 Weaver, Saturday, 9 a.m.
No. 5 Oxford vs. No. 12 Faith Christian, Saturday, noon
No. 4 Piedmont vs. No. 13 Alexandria, Saturday, 3 p.m.
No. 3 Ohatchee vs. No. 14 Donoho, Saturday, 6 p.m.
No. 6 Pleasant Valley vs. No. 11 Sacred Heart, Monday, 9 a.m.
No. 7 Wellborn vs. No. 10 White Plains, Monday, noon
No. 2 Anniston vs. No. 15 Saks, Monday, 3 p.m.

Second-round games
No. 1 Jacksonville vs. JCA-Weaver winner, Monday, 6 p.m.
Oxford-Faith winner vs. Piedmont-Alexandria winner, Jan. 20, 5 p.m.
Ohatchee-Donoho winner vs. PV-Sacred Heart winner, Jan. 20, 8 p.m.
Wellborn-White Plains winner vs. Anniston-Saks winner, Jan. 21, 6:30 p.m.

BRANT’S BEST BETS

Final Four: Jacksonville def. Oxford, Anniston def. Ohatchee
Championship Game: Anniston def. Jacksonville

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

If you look at the seedings, Jacksonville is favored to win the 2015 Calhoun County Girls Basketball Tournament. Six teams were seeded and the rest were determined by a blind draw. The intent was to have better first-round games, which it may have done with Anniston-Saks in the first round, but it just sets up a bad second-round game.

Here’s a look at all the teams in the 2015 tournament and their play this year through Sunday.

JACKSONVILLE GOLDEN EAGLES (16-2)

Ryan Chambless has one of his better teams this year. He can play nine or 10 players with not much drop off in talent. Senior Angel Kidd drives the team with her ability to drive and hit the 3. Her 17 points a game are complimented by 14 a game from senior Virginia Poe. The Golden Eagles have power down inside in six-foot sophomore Sierra Stone who nearly averages a double-double and has had some huge games this year.

The Golden Eagles had a nine-point loss to Gadsden City, who may be ranked No. 1 in Class 7A when the next poll is released and a three-point loss to Madison Academy, No. 2 in 3A.

Jacksonville is No. 3 in 4A. If you want to beat the Golden Eagles, you have to have size, speed and power inside and the ability to beat their ferocious press.

ANNISTON BULLDOGS (14-5)

Anniston's Raven Cooley (4) applies tight defense on an inbounds play. On the cover, Jacksonville's Virginia Poe (4) goes over a play with Ataliya Morgan.

Anniston’s Raven Cooley (4) applies tight defense on an inbounds play. On the cover, Jacksonville’s Virginia Poe (4) goes over a play with Ataliya Morgan.

The Lady Bulldogs are long, tall, fast and rangy and can beat anybody on a given night. They will give Jacksonville a run for their money.

All five of coach Eddie Bullock’s team’s losses have come to ranked opponents — No. 1-6A Homewood, No. 3-6A Center Point, projected No. 1-7A Gadsden City, No. 5-4A Fort Payne and No. 5-5A Sylacauga.

Junior guard Raven Cooley can fly up and down the court, shoot the 3 and leads a pressing defense; she averages 15 points a game. Tall senior Kiyana Bullock can control the boards, goes after it on the offensive glass and averages 13 points a game. Her inside running mate, junior Carsheuna Curry gets 10 rebounds a game and sophomore Miajah Bullard averages near double figures in scoring.

The Bulldogs will make a serious run at the 4A state title and almost certainly meet Jacksonville in the county tournament finals.

OHATCHEE INDIANS (15-5)

Ohatchee coach Bryant Ginn plots strategy during a time out.

Ohatchee coach Bryant Ginn plots strategy during a time out.

The Lady Indians put together a nine-game winning streak earlier this season and have won six straight county games. Their 6-1 record against county foes includes an early-season loss to Pleasant Valley and a 16-point victory over those same Raiders over the holiday season.

Coach Bryant Ginn has relied on the dynamic outside and inside threat of seniors Morgan Lee and Joria Steger. Both are averaging around 15 points a game.

Ohatchee’s improved play in recent weeks has helped it gain consideration for the Class 3A rankings. The Indians open with Donoho and with a win will meet the winner of the Sacred Heart–Pleasant Valley game.

PIEDMONT BULLDOGS (13-7)

The 3A Lady Bulldogs have a 6-2 record against county foes and are 13-7 overall. Coach Terrace Ridley’s team jumped out 11-1 this season before losing to Spring Garden in the finals of the Cherokee County Invitational. Losses to Hokes Bluff, Pleasant Valley and White Plains sent them into a bit of a spin, but they bounced back with a big win over Weaver.

An injury to senior Riesha Thompson has hurt the Bulldogs recently. Senior Bre Green leads them in scoring with around 17 points a game and senior Carlie Flowers is going to get them about eight a game.

OXFORD YELLOW JACKETS (8-9)

The Lady Yellow Jackets lost all their starters off of last year’s team and have no seniors this year. Coach Tonya Peoples has played a rugged schedule, including five losses to highly ranked teams — Gadsden City (twice), Albertville (twice) and Carrollton, Ga.

Still, the Jackets have been improving throughout the season and have five players who can potentially score in double figures. They have been getting good guard play from junior Winter Taylor and freshmen Makayla Kidd and Tremeria Britt. Juniors Ebony Kelley, Jordan Smith and Alexis Davis have given the Yellow Jackets a presence underneath the basket. Freshmen Anna Bolton and Alex Gomez have given Oxford some spark off the bench.

SAKS WILDCATS (7-5)

Coach Michelle Lively’s Wildcats got a very tough blind draw in the tournament as they have to open with Anniston. They got off to a slow start this year, but are playing well now. Two of their losses have been to Jacksonville this season and may have one of the youngest teams around with five sophomores, four freshmen, an eighth-grader and a senior on the roster.

The Wildcats have some great potential on the team in players like Jordan Briskey, Maiya Northard, Miracle Dennard, Bre Browning and Daja Johnson. Taylor Teague can fly up and down the court.

JACKSONVILLE CHRISTIAN THUNDER (11-6)

Coach Brooke Lee has the Lady Thunder playing some very good basketball this year. Senior Jordan Barnes consistently scores 15 points a game as does junior Sarah Crook, and Kayla Barnes is right there with them. This triple threat has helped the Thunder defeat Donoho, Faith and Gaylesville twice each this year. JCA opens up in the tournament against Weaver with the winner drawing No. 1 Jacksonville.

ALEXANDRIA VALLEY CUBS (6-10)

The Lady Cubs probably have as good an idea as anybody as to whom is going to win the county tournament; they have played six county games (0-6), including games with four of the top five seeds. They fill that void in the opening round against Piedmont.

Guard Timberlyn Shurbutt leads the Cubs with 17 points per game; she can drill the three and scored 37 against Cleburne County. Kaitlyn Brown, Shelby Lowery and Bre Bradford are capable of having a double-figure game as well.

WHITE PLAINS WILDCATS (8-10)

The Lady Wildcats have played 12 games in the county and are 6-6 in those games. They started out 5-1 in the season and won their last two games coming into this week but have struggled in between.

Coach Michael Merriman’s team is led by senior Amber Greenwood’s 18-point scoring average. Sophomore guard Shelby Wood is averaging 10 and sophomore Hannah Barno nine.

White Plains will battle every minute. They open with Wellborn in the first round. It will be the first meeting between the two teams this season.

PLEASANT VALLEY RAIDERS (10-10)

The Lady Raiders have beaten six county teams this year and are a solid team under the direction of head coach Jeremy Wallace. Inconsistency has been a problem at times, but they play hard and keep coming at you.

Sophomore Atleigh Brannon is having a big year averaging 17 points a game. Senior guard Tiffany Williams runs the floor well and has had some big scoring games; she averages 11 points a game. Kara Perry, Baily Scott and Mikala Simpson give them a presence on the boards.

This team could pull off some surprises in the tournament if the 3s are falling

FAITH CHRISTIAN LIONS (6-11)

Madison Stephens is one of the most prolific scorers in the county.

Madison Stephens is one of the most prolific scorers in the county.

Junior Madison Stephens is the heart of the Lady Lions and as she goes, so goes the Lions. The guard is averaging 19 points a game and is the unofficial leading scorer in the county. Senior Jaz Groce had a 22-point outburst against Donoho.

The Lions are very short on depth, but play pretty good defense and coach Bradley Dawson rotates players in and out to get as much rest as possible. Faith opens with Oxford and will have its hands full with the Jackets’ depth and size.

WEAVER BEARCATS (5-13)

Weaver coach Gary Atchley has watched his team make progress during the season.

Weaver coach Gary Atchley has watched his team make progress during the season.

The Lady Bearcats of Gary Atchley have struggled for wins this season as they are starting a couple of 8th graders, ninth grader and a senior, but they have improved as the season has progressed. Senior Keara Scott can pound the boards and eighth-graders Rayne Beck and Mariah Thompson are averaging around 10 points a game.

WELLBORN PANTHERS (3-12)

Wellborn's Dymond Myles (2) and Dynasty Myles.

Wellborn’s Dymond Myles (2) and Dynasty Myles.

The Lady Panthers probably could have enjoyed more success if their best player could avoid foul trouble. Leading scorer Dymond Miles, who was averaging 20 a game earlier this year, can shoot the 3, rebound down low and carry the team at times, but has had a hard time staying on the court due to fouls.

Caitlin Gamble can shoot the 3 and usually hits one or two a game, and coach Stephen Gay gets good leadership from sophomore tenth grader Carlee Mullinax.

SACRED HEART CARDINALS (1-9)

The Lady Cardinals’ lone victory this year came over Donoho 49-39. Senior Zainab Sanusi leads the team in scoring. Sophomore Jarece Tillery and Christine Stephens help out in the scoring department.

DONOHO FALCONS (0-11)

The Lady Falcons are still seeking their first victory this year, but they are determined to break through. Anna Woodfin, Kelsey Jackson, Kirin Heathcock and Constance Hodges have led them this year.



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