E.A. Sports Today

Sleepless in Saks

The way her team has been playing has Wildcats’ girls coach Lively too excited to sleep

By Jason Katz
For East Alabama Sports Today

Saks girls basketball coach Michele Lively isn’t getting much sleep these days. It’s not because her Wildcats are struggling, but because they are winning — and winning big.

“I would usually lose sleep when we were losing,” she said. “Now the shoe is on the other foot and we are winning and I can’t sleep. These girls are creating a hunger for me as a coach to continue to do better and right now I’m just enjoying it.”

Lively probably didn’t get much Thursday night as her Wildcats thumped Alexandria 52-22 in a game that showed sustained success for the Saks girls.

Alexandria’s Timberlyn Shurbutt was all but set to score her 1,000th career point in the game, but adversity struck early in the game as the Valley Cubs’ star left with an undisclosed knee injury. She would return briefly later in the game before the injury became too overwhelming and she was forced off the court still needing nine points to reach the milestone.

With Shurbutt out of the picture, the Wildcats (13-6) made easy work of their neighboring rivals. Jordan Briskey had 19 points and led all scorers, while Bryanna Browning had 10 points and four rebounds. Connieya Bradford led Alexandria (6-7) with eight points and five rebounds.

Nothing could rain on the Saks parade tonight. The players were all smiles in the locker room and it resonated on their coaches’ face after the game.

“It has been a struggle to get here,” Lively said. “We won eight games last year and now we are 13-6. This team has such a different feel to it and they had to stop me in the locker room from getting too over-excited, but they are determined right now to make a run.”

Going onto the county tournament – where they are the No. 2 seed — will just be another test for the Wildcats as they look for a deep run that could make this one of the best Saks teams in recent memory.

“We need to play better defense to make a deep run in county,” Lively said. “We have been getting into this stretch where we have played some teams that do not have as good ball handlers and to have a shot we need to be a little more disciplined on defense.”

No matter what the county brings to this Saks girls team, it is enjoying what is taking place and living in the moment.

“This is fun,” Lively said as she gleamed at the scoreboard. “You just have to enjoy the moment sometimes.”

Saks 52, Alexandria 22

ALEXANDRIA (6-7) — Sarah Kilgore 0 0-0 0, Connieya Bradford 4 1-4 9, Gracie Munchie 0 0-0 0, Catelynn Howell 0 1-2 1, Brooke Ponder 0 0-0 0, Timberlyn Shurbutt 0 0-0 0, Shelby Lowery 1 2-2 5, Destiny Heathcock 1 0-2 3, Allison Bonds 1 0-0 0. Totals 7 4-10 22.

SAKS (13-6) — Talisa Christian 2 0-0 4, Taylor Teague 0 2-2 2, Jordan Briskey 7 3-4 19, Sabera Bean 0 0-0 0, Maiya Northard 3 0-1 6, Christie Gooden 0 0-0 0, TeeTee Jenkins 2 1-1 5, Bryanna Browning 5 0-1 10
Daja Johnson 3 1-1 8. Totals 21 7-10 52.

Alexandria 13 0 6 3 — 22
Saks 20 12 14 16 — 52

3-point goals: Alexandria 3 (Lowery, Heathcock, Bonds); Saks 3 (Briskey 2, Johnson). Total fouls: Alexandria 13, Saks 16. Officials: Stephens, Caldwell, Baker.



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