E.A. Sports Today

Anniston closing in on area title

Bulldogs beat Alexandria for second time this season keeping area title hopes alive while dashing Cubs’

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Anniston denied Alexandria the right to host the area tournament and kept its own hopes alive for the same prize with a 55-49 win over the Valley Cubs Tuesday night.

The game had all the intensity of a championship game between longtime rivals. Players from both sides were flying across the floor for loose balls, playing in-your-face defense and looking to make the big play that would tilt the momentum in their favor.

Anniston (9-6) never trailed, although Alexandria did get within a point three times late in the third quarter and again as late as 2:40 left in the game.

Dakota Kelley’s 3-pointer drew the Valley Cubs to within 48-47, but then Anniston outscored them 7-2 the rest of the way. The Bulldogs hit five of nine free throws in the final 50 seconds – four of six in the final 20 — to keep Alexandria at arm’s length and ultimately snap the Cubs’ 10-game winning streak.

“I was glad they kept their head,” Anniston coach Schuessler Ware said. “It was real big for us to be able to knock the shots down.”

Alexandria (15-3), the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Calhoun County Tournament, would have clinched the Class 5A Area 12 title and tournament hosting privileges with a win. Now, Anniston can clinch the area championship with a win over Lincoln at home Friday.

A Lincoln win would send the area race to a coin toss.

There was a sense leaving the Anniston camp Tuesday night beating Lincoln was the more important issue than the area title because of the way the Bulldogs lost to the Bears — for the first time in more than 35 years – earlier this season.

“Like I keep telling the kids, Friday is the one we want, regardless whatever the outcome had been tonight,” Ware said. “All of us wanted to win tonight, but I wanted to get them focused to get that revenge there.

“The area is very important to win. You want it to win. But I didn’t like how we lost that one.”

Tray Croft led Anniston with 18 points. Marrio Dobbins had 17 and DeQuan Ross had 12 points and 11 rebounds. Emmanuel Jones was active around the glass, too, with eight rebounds. Croft and Dobbins were a combined seven for 10 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter

Alexandria’s Kelley led all scorers with 21 points. He hit five 3-pointers.

The Valley Cubs were cold early — both from the 3-point line and the free throw line — and fell behind 18-8 after one quarter and 23-8 into the second.

“The guys are a little down,” Alexandria coach Jason Johnson said. “They really wanted to be able to host this thing and we just didn’t shoot real well and got ourselves in a bit of a hole early.

“I’m disappointed for our kids, but I liked the fight, the energy level and the comeback we did; they gave the effort and sometimes you just don’t win. The season isn’t over. We’re going to keep working it and see what happens.”

Kelley finally got hot and hit back-to-back 3s to get the Cubs back into it. His 3-pointer with 1:41 left in the third quarter got them back within one for the first time, but Croft hit a 3 from the top of the arc at the buzzer to send the Bulldogs into the fourth quarter with a four-point lead.

“We had two big games last week where we played hard, so when we came here coach told us to play as a team and play hard and beat these boys,” Croft said. “That’s what we did. We came out and played hard and played as a team.”

Anniston 55, Alexandria 49

ALEXANDRIA (15-3) – Chance Williams 0 0-0 0, Nick Porter 0 0-0 0, Riley Shaw 0 0-0 0, Alton Davis 3 0-4 6, Tyrelle Gay 1 0-1 3, Ronnie Royal 2 3-5 7, Luke Tucker 4 0-0 10, Dakota Kelley 6 4-4 21, Darrin Caver 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 7-14 49.

ANNISTON (9-6) – Marrio Dobbins 6 4-5 17, Tray Croft 5 6-9 18, Hakeem Ross 0 0-0 0, Davion Tippins 4 0-0 8, DeQuan Ross 5 1-3 12, Emmanuel James 0 0-0 0, Trevonta Carter 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 11-17 55.

Alexandria 8 15 23 9 — 49
Anniston 18 10 16 11 — 55

3-point goals: Alexandria 8 (Kelley 5, Tucker 2, Gay); Anniston 4 (Dobbins, Croft 2, D. Ross). Total fouls: Alexandria 19, Anniston 14. Fouled out: Gay. Officials: Montgomery, Roberts, Bradford.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login