E.A. Sports Today

Cubs keep date with Anniston

Alexandria finds shooting touch late, dumps Lincoln; Bulldogs rout St. Clair County

Dakota Kelley (center) leads his Alexandria teammates back down the floor after a turnover in their area tournament game with Lincoln.

Dakota Kelley (center) leads his Alexandria teammates back down the floor after a turnover in their area tournament game with Lincoln.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

As good a shooting team as Alexandria is from the outside, it seemed just a matter of time before its shot came around Tuesday night.

The Valley Cubs might not have been hitting shots early and were trailing in the game, but to hear them tell it, they had Lincoln right where they wanted it.

They were content to pound it inside knowing in time it would open up the outside. And that’s exactly what it did.

The Cubs, particularly gunner Dakota Kelley, began finding their range and pulled away from the Bears to win what their players called “the biggest game of the year” 66-56 in the Class 5A Area 12 tournament at Anniston High School.

“It was really just working the ball inside and getting it to create some space,” Kelley said. “The more we worked it inside, the more our post players got fouls on theirs and scored, the more their guards would have to sink down and we’d have open lanes to pass it out to us. And that’s what happened. That’s what our plan was and I think it worked out.”

The Cubs (22-5) will now play top-seeded Anniston – for the fourth time this season – for the area championship at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Both teams are guaranteed a spot in the next round of the playoffs.

Lincoln led 13-6 after one quarter and 19-16 midway through the second behind Dee Whiteside, but Kelley was never worried about the outside being completely closed. Whiteside, meanwhile, had eight points in the first quarter and 17 in the first half, but battled foul trouble the whole second half and finished with 19 for the game.

Kelley, meanwhile, started coming out of his shell late in the second quarter when he buried back-to-back 3s to eventually get Cubs even at 24 with 1:09 left in the first half. He really heated up in the third quarter when he scored a three-point play and two more 3s on three consecutive trips down the floor to push the lead to 44-36.

Kelley hit five 3-pointers in all – many with a hand in his face — and finished with a game-high 23 points. Riley Shaw and Caleb Young also hit 3-pointers for the Cubs in the game.

“We always tell the guys to have confidence in themselves; if it’s a good shot keep shooting,” Alexandria coach Jason Johnson said. “We work on our shooting every day and as long as it’s a good shot within our offense, we say shoot it.

“Yeah, we just struggled a little bit early, but the guys were getting good looks and they were able to hit some down the stretch. … We thought once our shot fell in we could be able to get a lead and hopefully expand it and, fortunately tonight, we were able to do that.”

Lincoln did get as close as five early in the fourth quarter, but Alexandria then beat the Bears’ pressure and used a 7-2 run – most from the foul line – to push their lead to 10, where it stayed the rest of the game.

“I figured they wouldn’t shoot it well here,” Lincoln coach Rush Rutledge said. “They didn’t shoot it well when they played (Anniston) over here, so my thing was let’s try to keep them in front and if they make three or four of them they do, we were just going to give them up.

“The things that beat us tonight were turnovers. I think we played well enough to win defensively, but you can’t turn the ball over 20-30 times and beat a good team. And I think their depth got us.”

Anniston 93, St. Clair County 53

The moment the first boys’ game was completed, Anniston knew exactly what it had to do.

The Bulldogs want Alexandria so bad for what it did to them in the County Tournament, but they had to beat the Saints in the nightcap to complete the deal.

No worries. The Dawgs cleared the bench, put four of their dozen scorers in double figures and rolled into the area championship game. DeQuan Ross led the way with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

“Everything about tonight was special,” Ross said. “We really just wanted to play Thursday. We wanted to make it to Alexandria, by us losing to them in the County, so we just really tried to fight to get to them.”

The Bulldogs had beaten Alexandria twice in the all-important regular-season area games, but there’s something about their 58-56 loss in the County semifinals that has stuck with them since the day it happened.

“That’s what they told me,” Anniston coach Schuessler Ware said. “They’re seeking revenge. They want that game. They felt that they let one get away.”

The Bulldogs played another game with a similar payback bent earlier this year. They hosted Lincoln late in the year looking to avenge their first loss to the Bears in nearly 40 years. They beat them to clinch the right to play this tournament on their own floor.

There really wasn’t much to Tuesday night’s game. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 21-10 lead and continued to pour it on. In addition to Ross’ big night, Tray Croft had 14 points, six assists and three steals; Emmanuel James had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Marrio Dobbins had 11 points.

“I heard some of the guys wanted to get back in there (to attempt 100), but I told them I appreciated what they did tonight and they were through for the night,” Ware said. “No overtime.”


Alexandria 66, Lincoln 56

LINCOLN – Isaac Davis 3 0-1 6, Zay Caldwell 1 1-2 4, Tyler Hemphill 3 5-6 11, D.J. Bradford 3 0-0 7, K.J. Collins 2 0-0 4, Quin Carmichael 1 1-2 3, Dee Whiteside 7 5-8 19, L.J. Carmichael 0 2-2 2, Tarez Ellis 0 0-0 0, Berkeal Truss 0 0-0 0, Donte Rivers 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 14-21 56.

ALEXANDRIA (22-5) – Chance Williams 0 0-0 0, Austin Wells 0 0-0 0, Nick Porter 1 4-6 6, Riley Shaw 1 0-0 3, Kevin Swink 0 0-0 0, Alton Davis 3 7-10 13, Jake Woodard 0 0-0 0, Tyrelle Gay 1 1-2 3, Caleb Young 2 2-2 7, Ronnie Royal 2 1-1 5, Marcus Swink 0 0-0 0, Luke Tucker 3 0-0 6, Dakota Kelley 8 2-3 23, Darrin Caver 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 17-24 66.

Lincoln 13 14 16 13 — 56
Alexandria 6 22 21 17 — 66

3-point goals: Lincoln 2 (Caldwell, Bradford); Alexandria 7 (Shaw, Young, Kelley 5). Total fouls: Lincoln 21, Alexandria 17. Officials: Harrell, Williams, Gamble.

Anniston 93, St. Clair County 53

ST. CLAIR COUNTY — Taylor Mickens 0 1-3 1, Colby Smith 1 0-0 2, Kelvin Johnson 2 0-0 6, Christopher McCugh 4 0-0 8, Hakeem Davis 2 0-0 5, Armond Brasfield 0 2-2 2, Jadarren Carter 0 0-0 0, Mason Anderson 2 3-4 7, Justin May 3 0-0 6, Leslie Patten 6 2-3 14, Willie Buckhanon 1 0-2 2. Totals 21 8-14 53.

ANNISTON — Marrio Dobbins 3 4-4 11, Tray Croft 5 1-1 14, Hakeem Ross 0 1-2 1, Davion Tippins 4 0-2 8, Tae Miller 1 2-2 4, Antonio Smith 0 1-2 1, DeQuan Ross 11 0-1 22, Quindarious Burton 2 2-4 7, JaKory Bradford 3 0-0 6, Justin Bagley 1 2-4 4, Cordarius Storey 0 0-0 0, Emmanuel James 5 0-0 10, Trevonta Carter 0 0-0 0, Tareek Wood Packer 2 1-2 5. Totals 37 14-24 93.

St. Clair County 10 12 18 13 — 53
Anniston 21 28 30 14 — 93

3-point goals: St. Clair County 3 (Johnson 2, Davis); Anniston 5 (Dobbins, Burton, Croft 3). Total fouls: St. Clair County 17, Anniston 14. Officials: Harrell, Williams, Gamble.

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