E.A. Sports Today

‘D’ in Dawgs means (title) defense

UPDATE: Late block carries Anniston to another Calhoun County Tournament crown



By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Anniston junior J’Kyra Clemons blocked a last-second shot by Jacksonville’s Virginia Poe and helped preserve a fourth-quarter rally that enabled the Bulldogs to capture another Calhoun County Girls Tournament title Saturday night, 50-48, at Pete Mathews Coliseum.

Two free throws by Poe tied the game with 2:02 to go before tournament MVP Raven Cooley banked in a stunning 3-point shot to put her team ahead for good 49-46. Two more Poe free throws made it 50-48 and a couple missed Anniston free throws with 4.8 seconds left gave Jacksonville one final shot to tie it or win.

On the final play, the Bulldogs initially planned to double-team Angel Kidd on the inbounds figuring Jacksonville was going to penetrate, but the plan was altered after they saw Poe moved down low. The Golden Eagles got the ball into Poe and as she turned to shoot between Kiyana Bullock and Clemons, someone got a hand on it, knocking it away touching off a wild celebration by the Anniston bench.

In the post-game interview, Bullock said she got it, but television replays seemed to indicate and coach Eddie Bullock said later it was Clemons, a late-game replacement for Carsheuna Curry, who had fouled out.

“Coach told us to get over there and get a piece of it and not foul on it and that is what we did,” Kiyana Bullock said. “I was able to get a piece of it and we won. It feels so good right now. This is my last county and I am proud we were able to beat a good team like them. It is just so exciting for us.”

If this were a Hollywood movie, the game would have been called Anniston-Jacksonville V, as it was the fifth straight time these two rivals have met for the County Championship. The stakes were high and the game may have featured two teams on the way to their respective class Final Fours in Birmingham.

Anniston (20-5) came in ranked No. 7 in Class 5A, while Jacksonville (19-4) came in No. 3 in Class 4A. Jacksonville was seeded first in the tournament, Anniston second.

“This is great, because it’s been a long time since we’ve been seeded No. 2,” Eddie Bullock said. “Basically we knew they were the more experienced team and we wanted to prove we could play with them.”

It was like a prize fight as each team hit the other with blow after blow and both kept getting up and coming back. The Lady Bulldogs took the first shot with a 10-0 run to start the game. Cooley provided that first punch with a 3 and a bucket and the Golden Eagles looked to be in trouble of getting blown out.

Poe would have none of it as she buried a couple of 3s to cut into the lead. Sophomore Sierra Stone took over on the boards with eight points and guard Angel Kidd buried a couple of 3s to give Jacksonville a 24-22 late in the first half.

The Bulldogs lost point guard Davia Palmer to an ankle injury during this time, but they still responded with a run of their own to pull back ahead 30-27 early in the second half. Cooley had to move to point guard and this allowed Jacksonville’s defense to stifle Anniston’s offense and the Eagles scored nine straight points to pull back ahead 38-34 after three quarters.

Jacksonville took control in the fourth quarter and led 42-38 when the Golden Eagles lost their patience. They had a four-point lead with the ball inside four minutes to play and they fired up two errant long 3-point shots that allowed Anniston to re-take the lead at 43-42.

Maijah Bullock poured in 16 points for the Bulldogs and Cooley added 15 points with three 3-pointers. Kiyana Bullock had 10 points and nine rebounds.

Jacksonville coach Ryan Chambless said at halftime his team had to “have better defense to stay in the game” and it gave it to him holding Anniston to just seven third-quarter points, but Anniston was able to get five fourth-quarter free throws to keep the game tight.

Stone was solid as a rock on the boards for the Eagles as she hauled down 17 rebounds and added 12 points. Poe finished with 18 points and gave the Lady Bulldogs fits driving to the basket. Kidd found herself in third quarter foul trouble and had to sit a while, but still managed 14 points.

Anniston tasted victory for the fourth time in five years in the finals and this was their 16th County championship

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