E.A. Sports Today

Lady Wildcats turn corner

Saks girls take upper hand in their area by completing season sweep of Jacksonville



“This is the best team I have ever had. … To see us come together has been special. We have turned a corner.”

— Saks coach Michelle Lively

By Jason Katz
For East Alabama Sports Today

Michelle Lively bounced out of the Saks locker room Tuesday night with an obvious amount of joy written on her face. Not only was she smiling over her team’s highest seeding in the upcoming county tournament in eight years, but also over its dismantling of longtime area power Jacksonville 60-39.

Her Lady Wildcats all but put the game on cruise control early as they scored 15 points in each quarter of play. It all left Lively ecstatic about where her team has been and its future ahead.

“They are playing like where we left off after the last tournament we played,” she said. “They are growing every day and know basketball. That has not happened since 2010.”

It has been several years since Saks has been in this good a position to put the area on lock down and pace its way through the rest of the season.

“There are 10 girls on this team that can play,” Lively said. “When I take someone out I know I have another who can fill that position. Everyone on this team has a role and they all execute them well. I have a bench as well and that is hard for most teams.”

Tuesday’s victory was dominated by stellar play from the usual cast of characters. Tayler Teague and Maiya Northard had 13 points each and combined for seven rebounds and three assists. Bry’Anna Browning had 10 points and six rebounds.

Jacksonville was led in scoring by Kyra Williams’ 17 points. Aniya Jefferson had six points and 13 rebounds.

The Lady Wildcats (10-6, 4-0 area), the No. 2 seed in the upcoming county tournament, held Jacksonville (8-6, 3-2) to single digits in two of the four quarters and had 13 points off of turnovers. They were a solid 23-of-42 from the field and shot 61 percent from the line.

This team has not always been as well put together as they are now. Lively remembers a time when getting her team to commit was a thing of imagination, but a supportive and well communicating staff around her helped turn the tide.

“I have a great group of people who surround me,” said Lively. “My assistant played here when I was an assistant coach and she has become a huge part of this team. I have a junior high coach who understands the system and creates a feeder program up to our level. We all mesh well together and that creates an amazing atmosphere to be in.”

The area road continues for both teams Friday as Saks faces White Plains and Jacksonville faces Cleburne County.

“This is the best team I have ever had,” Lively said. “Everything we have been through the past two years has been so hard, and to see us come together has been special.

“We have turned a corner.”

Saks 60, Jacksonville 39

JACKSONVILLE (8-6, 3-2) – Kyra Williams 6-16 4-5 17, Aniya Jefferson 3-7 0-2 6, Kelsey Ervin 1-1 2-4 4, Malieah Patterson 1-4 1-2 4, Ataliya Morgan 1-3 0-0 3, Essence Hutchinson 1-3 0-0 3, Dasia Kirksey 1-9 0-2 2, Aniyah Robinson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-44 7-15 39.

SAKS (10-6, 4-0) – Tayler Teague 5-9 3-6 13, Maiya Northard 6-12 1-1 13, BryAnna Browning 5-7 0-0 10, Jordan Briskey 0-3 8-12 8, Daja Johnson 3-5 1-2 8, TeeTee Jenkins 3-4 0-0 6, Talisa Christian 1-2 0-0 2, SaBrea Bean 0-0 0-0 0, Ayanna Bradberry 0-0 0-0 0, Chrstie Gooden 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-42 13-21 60.

Jacksonville 5 14 6 14 — 39
Saks 15 15 15 15 — 60

3-point goals: Jacksonville 4-9 (Williams 1-4, Patterson 1-1, Morgan 1-2, Hutchinson 1-2); Saks 1-6 (Teague 0-1, Northard 0-2, Briskey 0-1, Johnson 1-2). Rebounds: Jacksonville 31 (Jefferson 13, Ervin 6); Saks 29 (Browning 6, Briskey 6). Total fouls: Jacksonville 19, Saks 16.

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