E.A. Sports Today

Weaver girls break through

Freshman Cortez leads Lady Bearcats to first County Tournament win under Atchley, first for program in more than 10 years

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Gary Atchley waited five years for this day. The Weaver girls basketball program has waited a lot longer.

The Lady Bearcats won their first Calhoun County Tournament game in at least 12 years Tuesday – five under Atchley – in an easy 47-26 win over Donoho Monday at Pete Mathews Coliseum.

“I don’t think they won one since ’04, how long’s that been?” Atchley said. “They’ve got banner hanging up in the gym the last time they won the area and went to the regionals; I’m guessing they had to win one then. I’m assuming ’04 was the last time they did anything. This program has been in a hurt the last 15 years.”

Atchley figured his team “could have” broken the slump twice before – three years ago against Ohatchee and last year. They lost an 8-9 matchup with Jacksonville Christian last year against a team with two players who used to play for him.

“From the first day of practice there are certain times of the season you talk about,” Atchley said. “The county tournament in this area is big for everybody, so this first game of the tournament is definitely a game we’ve had circled every year.”

As much as the game was anticipated, there wasn’t much drama to it. Weaver used its press and made layups to open a 16-2 first-quarter lead and led 36-10 at halftime.

“When we’re pressing and running the floor and finishing shots, we’re a pretty hard team to beat,” Atchley said. “I figure we’ve lost seven games by five or six points or less and it’s coming down to layups and free throws.”

The biggest beneficiary of the approach was Caleigh Cortez. The Weaver freshman, who was like 3 the last time the Lady Bearcats won a county tournament game, scored 22 points – all in the first half. She played her first game with the varsity last year in the County Tournament game.

“The fact we hadn’t won in 15 years the first game it was just really motivating to win this game and come out here for my team,” Cortez said. “We came out here and played our hardest. I think it was all teamwork.”

The 11th-seeded Lady Bearcats’ next game promises to be a bit more challenging. They play sixth-seeded Ohatchee Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.

“Ever since the bracket’s been drawn, no disrespect to Donoho, we kind of had that game circled,” Atchley said. “We’re all in on that one.”

Weaver 47, Donoho 26

DONOHO – Anna Marie Woodfin 1 0-0 2, Kirin Heathcock 0 0-2 0, Alysse Lalonde 1 0-0 3, Samantha Strunk 0 0-1 0, Kelsey Jackson 1 0-0 3, Constance Hodges 3 0-3 6, Carley Hughes 0 0-0 0, Lauren Holbrook 2 1-2 5, Jenna Stremmel 2 2-5 7. Totals 10 3-13 26.

WEAVER – Caleigh Cortez 9 4-8 22, Tayanna Perry 2 0-0 4, Rayne Beck 5 0-0 10, Emily Reed 3 0-0 7, Anna Howell 1 0-0 2, Morgan Wigley 0 0-0 0, Hannah Roberts 0 0-0 0, Mariah Thompson 1 0-0 2, Abby Gaines 0 0-2 0, Skylar Watson 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 4-10 47.

Donoho 2 8 7 9 — 26
Weaver 16 20 5 6 — 47

3-point goals: Donoho 3 (Lalonde, Jackson, Stremmel); Weaver 1 (Reed). Fouled out: Beck. Total fouls: Donoho 13, Weaver 15.

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