E.A. Sports Today

Piedmont, Saks split

Piedmont boys win in double overtime, Saks girls continue their post-Florida surge with a big win

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

With one of their main weapons sidelined with an injury for an indeterminate amount of time, the Piedmont Bulldogs went looking for a few players to step up Monday.

Turns out, a lot of them did.

The Bulldogs got help from a lot of places in their 83-80 double-overtime win at Saks. Easton Kirk scored 22 points, Darnell Jackson had 19 and they combined for 17 in the two extra sessions.

Even the reserves helped in a big way.

“We had to have some people step up since Bayley (Blanchard) got hurt,” Kirk said. “T.J. Fairs and A.J. Fairs and Cardavian Myers coming into the game helped out a lot. It makes me feel really good when I know I’ve got somebody who can come in off the bench and give just as good minutes as I can.”

Blanchard, the Bulldogs’ steady point guard, suffered a shoulder injury early in the third quarter of their one-point loss to Jacksonville Thursday night. He is expected to undergo an MRI today to access the extent of the injury. The hope is he’ll be able to return in time for the area tournament in February.

While his loss is a blow to the Bulldogs’ chemistry, it ultimately couid make them stronger in the long run if the players accept the challenge.

“I told them tonight the thing we get out of this is we’re a deeper and better team than we led us to believe,” Piedmont coach Tommy Lewis said. “Some of these guys are playing very, very good.”

Missing free throws cost Piedmont in their home loss to the Wildcats earlier this season, but knocking them down saved the day in this one. Kirk hit two with 16.4 seconds left to give the Bulldogs their 83-80 lead. Jackson made two with 3.3 seconds left in the first overtime to extend the game.

Kirk made all eight of his free throws in the game. He and Jackson were a combined 17-of-22 for the game, 10-for-12 in the overtimes, 6-for-6 in the second one.

Saks’ Jaylen Britt missed a 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds left in the second overtime that would’ve tied the game. The Wildcats had a chance with 1.1 seconds left to get a 3-pointer that would’ve sent the game to a third overtime, but they couldn’t control the inbounds pass in the left corner.

“It was a heck of a game; both teams played tough,” Jackson said. “People were making plays, making shots, doing what they need for their team. We played an overtime Friday against Weaver, so we knew what the atmosphere was going to be and what we needed to do to get the win.”

Saks coach Jonathan Miller, meanwhile, lamented what he felt was his team’s indifferent approach to the game.

“I guess we fought towards the end, but it just wasn’t enough,” he said. “We can’t come out and not be ready to play. We didn’t come out like we wanted to play basketball tonight.”

Britt led all scorers with 25 points. He hit five 3-pointers, including one with 4.3 seconds left that sent the game into overtime.

Taylor Hayes added 18 for Piedmont and was taking change in the third quarter as the Bulldogs built as much as a seven-point lead.

Saks girls 53, Piedmont 23

Who would ever think a three-game losing in an out-of-tournament would actually be good for the team that absorbed it? But that’s exactly what’s happened for Saks’ girls team.

The Lady Wildcats lost all three games they played in the Destin Holiday Classic between Christmas and New Year’s. The competition was stiff and they haven’t lost since they returned.

“I went down there for us spend time together,” Saks coach Michelle Lively said. “I knew we were going to play tough teams, but those are the type teams that are going to make us better.

“Everybody talks about how we got killed down there. We did one game and the others we lost by four and six. We competed and that’s what I wanted them to do, compete and have fun. I knew it would make us better.”

Since they’ve come back, Lively said, her team is “getting along so well it’s crazy.” And their basketball has been solid.

The Lady Wildcats had their way with the young Lady Bulldogs. They led by four after the first quarter and steadily increased their lead. Jordan Briskey and Maiya Northard had 12 points apiece and Daja Johnson added 10.

“Going there taught us different ways of basketball,” Northard said. “The girls there play a whole lot quicker … so it kind of made us speed up our game, and they’re a lot more physical, so that made us be tough. I’ve noticed we’re a lot quicker than a lot of teams now, we’re a lot stronger than a lot of teams and we can handle the little bit of pressure they give us.”

Johnson, the team’s point guard, said the experience helps her see the floor a lot better now. She called the transformation “amazing.”

“The change from how we were before Florida to how we are after Florida is different and you can see it,” she said. “We’ve gotten better as a team.”


Piedmont 83, Saks 80 (2 OT)

PIEDMONT — A.J. Fairs 3 0-0 8, Darnell Jackson 5 9-14 19, Taylor Hayes 7 4-6 18, Brett Akin 0 0-0 0, Easton Kirk 6 8-8 22, Cardavian Myers 4 2-6 10 Malik Gamble 0 0-0 0, Austin Brazier 1 4-5 6, Justin Young 0 0-0 0, Derrick Baer 0 0-0 0, T.J. Fairs 0 0-0 0, Carl Myers 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 27-39 83

SAKS — Jalen Wynn 1 0-0 2, Demetrius Powell 4 1-3 9, Quay McCord 0 0-0 0, Quin Smith 5 0-0 10, Jalen Britt 7 4-7 25, T.J. Murry 0 0-0 0, Davieuntae Booker 0 0-0 0, Malik Burns 1 0-0 2, Phonso Ward 3 2-4 9, Demario Burnett 4 1-4 9, Trae Hughley 3 1-2 7, Darien Briskey 3 0-0 6, Landun Peters 1 0-0 3. Totals 32 9-23 80.

Piedmont 17 18 16 13 9 10 — 83
Saks 13 19 16 16 9 7 — 80

3-point goals: Piedmont 4 (A.J. Fairs 2, Kirk 2); Saks 7 (Britt 5, Ward, Peters). Fouled out: Hayes, Burnett, Ward. Total fouls: Piedmont 19, Saks 30. Officials: Douthit, Evans, Holmes.


Saks 53, Piedmont 23

PIEDMONT – Jakeiya Mitchell 0 0-0 0, Samirra Braswell 0 0-0 0, Brooke Perry 3 0-1 6, Keshauna Jones 3 1-4 9, Kaitlyn Ridley 0 0-2 0, Lulu Jackson 2 1-4 5, Madison Tyree 0 0-0 0, Rebecca Smart 1 1-3 3. Totals 9 3-14 23.

SAKS – Ayanna Bradberry 1 0-0 0, Talisa Christian 1 1-5 3, Tayler Teague 1 2-3 4, Jordan Briskey 4 4-6 12, Sybrea Bean 0 0-0 0, Maiya Northard 4 4-6 12, Christiana Gooden 1 0-0 2, Tatyana Jenkins 0 0-0 0, Bre Browning 4 1-2 9, Daja Johnson 5 0-1 10.

Piedmont 6 8 4 5 — 23
Saks 10 15 16 12 — 53

3-point goals: Piedmont 2 (Jones 2); Saks 1 (Northard). Total fouls: Piedmont 19, Saks 15. Officials: Douthit, Evans, Holmes.

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