E.A. Sports Today

Lady Dawgs turn up the heat

Defensive intensity paves the way for Anniston girls to reach Northeast Regional

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Now you know what the Anniston girls basketball team was doing while it was blowing out all those teams over the last couple weeks of the season.

While everyone was focused on the one-sided scores of many of the games, the Bulldogs would tell everyone who would listen they were working on their defense for the tougher games they’d be facing down the road. Games like Monday night’s Class 5A subregional against Mortimer Jordan.

The Bulldogs took off the band aids and turned up the defense, and rolled into the Northeast Regional with a 55-22 victory over the Blue Devils.

They will play Madison County (23-8) in the regional semifinal 9 a.m. Monday at Jacksonville State.

“If you play defense, you give yourself a chance to win any game; it can be a close game or it’s always a potential to blow them out,” Anniston coach Eddie Bullock said. “I never expected to blow this team out tonight, but I felt like if we played defense I could at least beat them by 10 or 12, and that’s good enough for me.

“We played exceptional defense and by that we were able to (win by 33).”

The Bulldogs (24-8) forced the visiting Area 11 runnersup into 26 turnovers, off which they scored 25 points, and held them scoreless in the second quarter. Actually, the Blue Devils (15-11) went without a field goal – and just one point — from a 3-pointer that gave them a 6-5 lead midway through the first quarter to a 3-pointer two minutes into the third that ended a 22-0 Anniston run.

Miajah Bullock had three of Anniston’s 11 steals and five of its 16 deflections. Carsheuna Curry had 10 rebounds and four deflections. Davia Palmer had four steals and seven assists. Takia Shears had five rebounds and five blocked shots.

“I was more ready to play today than anything,” Bullock said. “We wanted to do it for our seniors because this is their last home game; we’ve got to send them home with a bang. I want to send them home with a blue (state championship) medal. He has been on us so bad about defense. We put it into the game tonight and the outcome was great.”

Kiyana Bullock is one of those seniors and she provided the big post presence the Bulldogs sought. Following her coach/uncle’s directive to “be a force,” she had a double-double by halftime and finished with 29 points and 16 rebounds.

“He had been getting on us about defense so we had to prove tonight we could play it like we did against Jacksonville (in the county championship game), but even better,” she said.

One interesting sidelight to the game was the Bulldogs played without their traditional band-aids. All season long they’d come out with the bandages under their left eye as a show of team unity, but on this night only Jemya Bullock and Raven Cooley displayed them.

Further investigation revealed the girls had simply run out of their supply.

“We’ll have them for the next game,” Jemya Bullock promised.

(On the cover: Kiyana Bullock shows her intensity in the Calhoun County Tournament championship game.)

Anniston 55, Mortimer Jordan 22

MORTIMER JORDAN (15-11) — Bess Crane 1 0-0 3, Sarah Rickles 1 0-0 3, Alyssa King 1 0-0 3, Carmen Mixon 0 0-0 0, Nicole Goldsmith 1 0-0 2, Anna Boger 0 0-0 0, Kaylan Hines 1 0-0 3, Sarah Speigel 0 0-0 0, Skylar Bluemly 1 0-0 2, Natalie Johnsey 1 0-0 3, Shayna Mims 1 0-0 3, Haley Alexander 0 1-2 1. Totals 8 1-2 22.

ANNISTON (24-8) — Miajah Bullock 1 3-3 5, Raven Cooley 4 0-0 11, Carlina Welch 0 1-2 1, Davia Palmer 2 0-0 4, Diamond Culver 0 0-0 0, Takia Shears 1 0-2 2, Carsheuna Curry 1 1-2 3, Kiyana Bullock 12 5-7 29, J’Kyra Clemons 0 0-0 0, Mattie Logan 0 0-0 0, Jemya Bullock 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 10-16 55.

Mortimer Jordan 7 0 10 5 — 22
Anniston 10 16 17 12 — 55

3-point goals: Mortimer Jordan 5 (Crane, Rickles, Hines, Johnsey, Mims); Anniston 3 (Cooley 3). Total fouls: Mortimer Jordan 12, Anniston 7. Officials: Dixon, Warren, Baldwin.

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