E.A. Sports Today

Monday basketball — Cortez strikes again

Freshman hits winning shot for second game in a row as undefeated Weaver (4-0) wins in OT; includes scores of games reported to EASportsToday.com




Lincoln Thanksgiving Invitational
Westbrook Christian 69, Moody 62
Pell City 42, Winterboro 41
White Plains 75, Sylacauga 59
Lincoln 81, Ashville 55

Regular Season
Anniston 50, Parker 38
Sacred Heart 80, Weaver 51


Creekbank Invitational
Pleasant Valley 64, Alexandria 56
Weaver 49, Cleburne County 48 (OT)
Wellborn 52, Lincoln 37

“It’s a magical ride right now. Somebody’s flipped on a switch and I don’t want anybody to cut it off. I’ll beat them up if they get anywhere close to it.”

— Weaver girls basketball coach Gary Atchley

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OHATCHEE — It’s not hard for Gary Atchley to imagine where his Weaver girls basketball team would be today without freshman Caliegh Cortez.

Certainly not 4-0 and maybe even 2-2.

For the second game in a row Cortez was in the right place at the right time for the Lady Bearcats. Her layup with 11.2 seconds to play Monday made the difference in Weaver’s improbable 49-48 overtime win over Cleburne County in the Creekbank Invitational.

In Saturday’s second round it was her free throw, steal and layup with 10 seconds left that lifted the Lady Bearcats over Coosa Christian 54-51. They are 4-0 for the first time since anyone can remember.

“This freshman has taken this team … by the horns,” Atchley said. “That’s what this Weaver basketball team has been waiting on for the five years I’ve been here, a girl like her to take this team and rein the other girls around them.

“I’ve got a great bunch of ninth and tenth graders in there and they are freakin’ so excited about playing basketball … it’s unbelievable. It’s a magical ride right now. Somebody’s flipped on a switch and I don’t want anybody to cut it off. I’ll beat them up if they get anywhere close to it.”

The win was improbable in the fact Weaver was so close to having the game get away at so many points. It trailed by 15 entering the fourth quarter, 10 with four minutes to play, nine with two minutes left in regulation and three with 1:12 left in overtime.

Weaver trailed 32-17 after three quarters, but had tied it at 40 on Rayne Beck’s bucket with 58 seconds to play. Beck stole the ball at midcourt and hit two free throws to put the Lady Bearcats up 42-40 with 41.5 seconds left, but Cleburne County tied it on two Erykah Ware free throws with 37.5 seconds to go.

“The will to win in these girls is unbelievable,” Atchley said. “We were down by 10 with four minutes to go and I was nervous as heck and that’s when they said to me, ‘Coach, we’re going to win this ballgame.’

“We started off 3-0, as hot as a firecracker, and we come into this gym thinking that we’ve arrived, that we’re just going to beat everybody, and it took us getting our tails kicked in that first half and me chewing them at halftime for them to realize we’ve got to play every night. I think these little young girls in here are starting to figure out if we can play like we did in the second half we can be a pretty good basketball team this year.”

Both teams had two chances to win it in regulation, but failed to deliver. The Lady Tigers had the last best chance but missed a layup with three seconds left.

The lead changed hands four times in overtime. Cleburne County took a 48-45 lead on Tatiana Ervin’s short jumper with 1:12 left.
Mariah Thompson’s two free throw got Weaver within 48-47. When Cleburne County missed on the other end, Cortez got behind the defense for her go-ahead layup.

The Lady Tigers tried to win at the buzzer, but lost the ball out of bounds.

“Coach gives us the set up, we get in the right spots, I got it and just showed up,” an exasperated Cortez said. “It feels great to be on this team.

“To get the winning points two times in a row … it was one of the great experiences probably of my basketball career in high school because we’ve usually lost games but today, this week, we’ve been doing good.”

Cortez finished with 14 points. Beck led Weaver with 15 points and Thompson added 11. Ware led Cleburne County (2-1) with 19 points, six rebounds and four steals. Chelsea Parker had seven points and 15 rebounds.

In the other tournament games, Pleasant Valley improved to 5-0 with a 64-56 win over Alexandria and Wellborn defeated Lincoln 52-37.

Weaver 49, Cleburne County 48 (OT)

CLEBURNE COUNTY (2-1) – Shauntavia Boyd 2 0-0 5, Erykah Ware 7 5-7 19, Chelsea Parker 3 1-2 7, Lauren Brown 3 0-1 6, Madison Jones 3 1-2 7, Alex Casey 1 0-0 2, Jessica Bonner 0 0-0 0, Tatiana Ervin 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 7-12 48.

WEAVER (4-0) – Ciara Hardy 0 3-4 3, Caleigh Cortez 3 8-14 14, Tayanna Perry 3 0-1 6, Rayne Beck 5 5-6 15, Emily Reed 0 0-0 0, Morgan Wigley 0 0-0 0, Mariah Thompson 4 2-8 11. Totals 15 18-33 49.

Cleburne County 10 11 11 10 6 — 48
Weaver 4 6 7 25 7 — 49

3-point goals: Cleburne County 1 (Boyd), Weaver 1 (Thompson). Fouled out: Boyd, Casey. Total fouls: Cleburne County 28, Weaver 13. Officials: Calkins, Howell, Davis.

On the cover: Weaver girls coach Gary Atchley diagrams a play for freshman Caleigh Cortez.

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