E.A. Sports Today

Sister act lifts JCA

Barnes girls lift JCA past former team; Oxford, Ohatchee, Piedmont also win

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — When the pairings for this year’s Calhoun County Girls Basketball Tournament were announced a couple weeks ago, the first thought that crossed Jacksonville Christian sophomore guard Kayla Barnes’ mind was of all the teams the Thunder could have drawn why did it have to be the one it did.

There were tougher teams they could have played, of course, but there was something unique to Barnes and her senior sister Jordan about the team they were going to play in what the seeding would suggest would be the most evenly matched game of the tournament.

JCA may be facing Weaver, the pairings said, but the Barnes girls were going against their former school and teammates. In the end they had the best of it as the Thunder won 47-43 in what turned out to be closest game of the tournament’s opening day.

“When we found out we were playing Weaver I like, ‘Oh my God, why are we playing them,’ but it was fun once we started,” Kayla said. “When we played against Weaver the coach really didn’t want us to win at all. It would have made his day if we would have lost.”

The sisters played a huge role in seeing that didn’t happen. They combined for 30 points – 16 for Jordan — with 18 coming in the second half as the Thunder (14-6) broke away from a tight game.

“It was a nice victory,” Jordan said. “To beat our old school, it was a nice victory.”

To understand how nice you have to know the history.

Jordan started out at Jacksonville – the team they play next thanks to the win – then transferred to JCA and stayed there to the end of her freshman year. That’s when she moved to Weaver, but after realizing she “didn’t like it that much” transferred back to JCA.

Kayla, of course, followed the same path only two grades behind. She started on JCA’s varsity as a seventh grader and at Weaver as a ninth grader. The sisters had to sit out last year after transferring back, but did everything with the team but play. Saturday was the first time they faced their old school since moving back.

“They wanted to win, but it wasn’t about them, it was about our team beating any team here,” Thunder coach Brooke Lee said. “We’re the smallest school in the county so no matter who we play here beating them is an honor. You have more in one class than we have in the entire school and we came out and played with you.”

After JCA opened a late lead, Weaver made a nice comeback cutting a 45-36 deficit to 45-43 with just a minute left. Rayne Beck single-handedly kept the Bearcats (6-17) in it scoring 11 of her 16 points in the second half.

Keara Scott, meanwhile, dominated on the inside with seven blocked shots, 10 rebounds and nine points. Ciara Hardy picked up nine points with three long 3-pointers.

The win moves JCA to face top-seeded Jacksonville; Jordan played with those players as seventh graders. The Golden Eagles beat Weaver by 77 in December and JCA barely beat the Bearcats, but Lee is looking forward to the game.

“They’re really good; I’ve watched them play and everybody I’ve seen them play has not even been in the ball game – they just killed them,” Lee said. “I’m actually excited about playing them for the fact that at the end of the day it’s not about the County Tournament but it’s about our area and our season and playing a team like Jacksonville is really going to help us prepare for (area favorites) Cedar Bluff and Spring Garden.

“It’s going to make us step up our game. I really like playing really hard competition like this to play higher competition and get better.”

Out front photo: Sisters Jordan (L) and Kayla Barnes watch the action after leading JCA over Weaver in the first game of the Calhoun County Tournament.

Lee returns for Ohatchee, but Steger sits

Ohatchee coach Bryant Ginn might be able to do without one of his two top players in the lineup at any given time, but he could ill-afford to be without both. So, as one was sitting out for “precautionary reasons” the other, who might not have played otherwise much less been pressed into a lot of action, got back on the floor.

Ginn held out Joria Steger just to be safe after the senior post slammed into a wall the night before at Ashville – “it was me against the wall and I won,” Steger said proudly. Meanwhile, there was some doubt throughout the week Morgan Lee might not play until the second round because of a sprained left ankle that still was badly discolored Saturday.

But there was Lee, in the game and helping the Indians overwhelm Donoho 61-20, while Steger, the inside threat, looked on from the bench. Their roles were reversed throughout the week.

“I was glad I got to play today,” Lee said. “I couldn’t have (before), but I wanted to. I shouldn’t have played but I did anyway and I’m glad I did.”

Actually, the outside threat played “a bunch” the night before because Ginn didn’t want her first game back to be bigger matchup, possibly rival Pleasant Valley in a second-round game here.

Lee scored 16 points, 11 in the first quarter as the Indians outscored the Falcons 23-2. Courtney Poole added 10 points, while Makenzie Hanks and Faith Walker had nine each. Hanks picked up the slack for Lee on Monday and Ally McCoy did it Tuesday.

“I just felt like I didn’t really have my rebounder there so I had to hit more shots than I could miss,” Lee said.

Meanwhile, Indians junior guard Hannah Howell is expected to undergo reconstructive surgery next week on the right knee she hurt Monday. She’s expected to miss six months. Not only will it keep her out of sneakers for an extended period, but heels as well, keeping her off the pageant circuit. — Al Muskewitz

Piedmont’s Green wins matchup of scorers

It was going to be a classic matchup between the respective teams’ leading scorers. Alexandria sophomore Timberlyn Shurbutt and Piedmont senior Bre Green had an intense head-to-head confrontation on both ends of the floor, but at the end of the day, the senior schooled the sophomore in Piedmont’s 50-32 win.

The first quarter was a dead heat as neither guard had a field goal. Green started heating up in the second quarter with seven points, while Shurbutt remained scoreless. The most telling play came on the final play of the half when Green was fouled by Shurbutt with three-tenths of a second on the clock. It was Shurbutt’s third personal and Green made all three shots to give the Bulldogs a 13-point lead.

“We’re going to have to figure out a way to get Timberlyn the ball in the second half,” Cubs coach Jordan Costner said at the break.

They moved Kaitlyn Brown to point guard in an attempt to free Shurbutt off screens. It seemed to work as she drilled a 3 and a 2, but the Bulldogs’ defense kept forcing turnovers and the Cubs had to her back to the point to protect the ball.

Green just kept rolling and finished with a game-high 18 points. Shurbutt ended with seven points and fouled out in the fourth quarter.

“Bre did a really good job on her and (Breanna) Brazier did a good job sliding over to help out,” Piedmont coach Terrace Ridley. “We felt like if we could shut her down it would help us win the game and our girls did a great job.” – Brant Locklier

Kelley dominates the post for Oxford

Happiness for Ebony Kelley is getting down on the block, rebounding a missed shot and putting it back up for two. That being said, she was real happy – and so were her teammates – as she helped Oxford dump Faith Christian 64-40 in the opening round of the tournament.

Kelley scored 20 points as the fifth-seeded Yellow Jackets advanced to a second-round meeting against fourth-seeded Piedmont. The majority of her points came on put-backs from the nine offensive rebounds she grabbed. She had 13 rebounds overall in the game.

“She’s a beast,” Oxford coach Tonya Peoples said. “She loves to work hard, you can tell. It’s not about points for her, but a lot of time she gets them because of her rebounds. A lot of times we’ll go away from Ebony knowing she’s going to take care of that back-side rebound.”

The way Kelley dominates the post is reminiscent of Ohatchee’s Joria Steger, although for Faith coach Bradley Dawson’s money the Oxford junior is the better “pure post player,” giving Peoples something she hadn’t had in her four years at the Jackets’ helm.

Oxford completely ruled the inside against the Lions, but Kelley didn’t do it alone. Jordan Smith scored 13 points and grabbed 16 boards. Together, they had plenty to offset the game-high 23 points of Faith’s Madison Stephens.

Interestingly, her easy way and pleasant disposition away from the court belies the violent nature of her world inside the paint. Invading her personal space is to invite trouble.

“I love being a beast, just rebounding and getting points and showing my strength; it just gives me happiness,” Kelley said. “I just love playing basketball. I’ve been playing since I was 5 and have always been bigger than everyone else, so when people are bigger than me I have to step up and show my strength. I might have a nice personality, but on the court I just mean business. You can be nice, but you can’t be too nice.” — Al Muskewitz

Oxford's Ebony Kelley (23) enjoyed another monster game in the post for the Yellow Jackets.

Oxford’s Ebony Kelley (23) enjoyed another monster game in the post for the Yellow Jackets.

(All games at Pete Mathews Coliseum, Jacksonville)

First-round games
No. 8 Jacksonville Christian 47, No. 9 Weaver 43
No. 5 Oxford 64, No. 12 Faith Christian 40
No. 4 Piedmont 50, No. 13 Alexandria 32
No. 3 Ohatchee 61, No. 14 Donoho 20
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. Jacksonville Christian, Monday, 6 p.m.
Oxford vs. Piedmont, Tuesday, 5 p.m.
Ohatchee vs. PV-Sacred Heart winner, Tuesday, 8 p.m.
Wellborn-White Plains winner vs. Anniston-Saks winner, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.

Semifinal games
Friday, 4 p.m.
Friday, 7 p.m.

Championship game
Saturday, 6:30 p.m.


Jacksonville Christian 47, Weaver 43

WEAVER – Tayana Perry 0 0-0 0, Ciara Hardy 3 0-0 9, Keara Scott 4 0-0 8, Caleigh Cortez 1 0-2 2, Rayne Beck 6 5-7 18, Emily Reed 0 0-2 0, Mariah Thompson 3 0-0 6. Totals 17 5-11 47.

JACKSONVILLE CHRISTIAN — Joeley Cupp 0 2-2 2, Briah Cupp 2 0-0 4, Sarah Crook 5 0-0 10, Raiah Espana 0 0-0 0, Jordan Barnes 6 2-2 16, Kayla Barnes 6 0-0 14, Josie Howell 0 1-2 2. Totals 19 5-6 47.

Weaver 12 11 10 10 — 43
JCA 11 10 18 8 — 47

3-point goals: Weaver 4 (Hardy 3, Beck); JCA (J. Barnes 2, K. Barnes 2). Total fouls: Weaver 10, JCA 11. Fouled out: Beck. Officials: Stubbs, Beard, Oliver.

Oxford 64, Faith Christian 40

FAITH CHRISTIAN — Logan Boyd 0 0-0 0, Emily Sills 1 0-0 2, Madison Stephens 9 1-2 23, Montana Huie 0 1-2 1, Elizabeth McCullough 2 0-0 4, Cornelia Simpson 3 1-1 7, Regan Crosby 1 0-0 3, Jaz Groce 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 3-5 40.

OXFORD — Anna Bolton 0-3 0-0 0, Kakayla Kidd 2-10 0-0 5, Winter Taylor 2-9 0-0 6, Makayla Lowery 3-6 0-0 6, Tremeria Britt -17 4-4 11, Ebony Kelley 9-15 2-2 20, Alex Gomez 0-4 0-0 0, Jordan Smith 6-9 1-1 13, Alexis Davis 0-4 1-2 1, Grace Mitchell 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 25-79 8-9 64.

Faith 12 9 14 5 — 40
Oxford 19 18 14 13 — 64

3-point goals: Faith 5 (Stephens 4, Crosby); Oxford 4-17 (Kidd 1-3, Taylor 2-4, Lowery 0-1, Britt 1-9). Rebounds: Faith 16, Oxford 51 (Kelley 13, Smith 16). Total fouls: Faith 8, Oxford 10. Officials: Winn, Killingsworth, Gaskins.

Piedmont 50, Alexandria 32

ALEXANDRIA – Kaitlyn Brown 5 4-6 14, Connieya Bradford 3 1-1 7, Allison Bonds 0 1-2 1, Timberlyn Shurbutt 3 0-0 7, Shelby Lowery 0 3-4 3, Jaycee Cooper 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 9-13

PIEDMONT – Paige Gowens 0 0-0 0, Sydney Prater 1 0-0 2, Breanna Brazier 5 0-0 13, Bre Green 6 6-9 18, Keshauna Jones 1 1-4 3, Lulu Jackson 0 0-2 0, Carlie Flowers 6 2-6 14, Kaitlyn Ridley 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 9-21 50.

Alexandria 5 11 9 7 — 32
Piedmont 9 20 10 11 — 50

3-point goals: Alexandria 1 (Shurbutt); Piedmont 3 (Brazier 3). Total fouls: Alexandria 15, Piedmont 13. Fouled out: Shurbutt. Officials: Hollingsworth, Crawford, Kelley.

Ohatchee 61, Donoho 20

DONOHO – Kirin Heathcock 0 1-2 1, Camille Fink 1 0-0 2, Alysse Lalonde 3 0-0 9, Anna Marie Woodfin 1 0-0 2, Dacey Dunaway 0 0-0 0, Meghana Giri 0 0-0 0, Kelsey Jackson 2 0-0 6, Libby Davis 0 0-0 0, Sara Mason 0 0-0 0, Alyssa Bell 0 0-0 0, Constance Hodges 0 0-0 0, Jenna Stremmel 0 0-0 0, Carley Hughes 0 0-0 0, Samantha Strunk 0 0-0 0. Lauren Holbrook 0 0-0 0. Totals 7 1-2 20.

OHATCHEE – Kacie Cooper 2 0-0 5, Courtney Poole 4 1-4 10, Morgan Lee 6 0-0 13, Ally McCoy 1 2-2 4, Peyton Steinberg 2 0-0 4, Makenzie Hanks 3 0-2 9, Madison Hanks 2 0-3 4, Faith Walker 4 1-3 9, Cheyenne McCarter 0 3-4 3. Totals 24 7-18 61.

Donoho 2 6 11 1 — 20
Ohatchee 23 23 12 3 — 61

3-point goals: Donoho 5 (Lalonde 3, Jackson 2); Ohatchee 6 (Cooper, Poole, Lee, Mk. Hanks 3). Total fouls: Donoho 14, Ohatchee 5. Officials: Burroughs, D. Davis, L. Davis.

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