E.A. Sports Today

Bulldogs want it all

Anniston gets past White Plains in boys semifinals, advance to county championship showdown with Sacred Heart



By Jason Katz
For East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Anniston center DeQuan Ross said after his team’s win over Alexandria a few weeks ago that the Bulldogs were the best team in the county.

On Saturday night he and his teammates will get their chance to solidify that statement.

Ross and Co. beat White Plains in the semifinals of the 65th Calhoun County Tournament 54-36. It sets up a rematch of the 2014 championship game when the Bulldogs edged Sacred Heart by two.

“It’s very exciting to get this chance,” Ross said. “For me to tell you a few weeks ago that we were the best, and now we get to prove it. This will be special.”

The pure shooting and excellent discipline of the Wildcats allowed them to hang around for a while, but as the game went on the Bulldogs (15-3) extended their lead.

White Plains came out early and scored five quick points as Anniston tried to get their feet set in Pete Mathews Coliseum. After the slow start, Ross was able to get a basket and get the Bulldogs to settle in as they scored 11 points in the first quarter.

They would go into halftime up 25-16.

“It is always important to start off a game well,” Ross said. “Once we got that early basket we knew we just had to play our game and good things would come out of it.”

The second half was similar as Anniston would extend the lead, but White Plains would chip away. The Wildcats trailed by only eight heading into the fourth quarter, but couldn’t advance the ball and make good shots against the Bulldogs’ defense.

“Defense was very important tonight, especially later in the game,” Anniston coach Schuessler Ware said. “Tomorrow it is going to be the same and as we get ready to play we have to focus on that aspect of the game.”

Senior Willie Thomas led the Bulldogs in scoring with 11 points. Tray Croft and DeQuan Ross both had 10. Thomas had four assists, Croft had eight rebounds and Ross grabbed five.

White Plains was on the cusp of getting back into it throughout the night, but couldn’t match the Bulldogs’ speed.

Michael McGuirk led the Wildcats with 11 points. Kevin Carr had seven and Eli Hightower scored six. McGuirk also had six rebounds.

Anniston will get the chance to prove Ross’ claim of being the best in the county Saturday at 8 p.m. Most teams would be a little nervous playing the top-seeded top-ranked Cardinals, but the Bulldogs see it as just another game.

“We are just going to play them like we did White Plains,” Ware said.” We’re not going to give it to them by any means. These kids all know each other and play with each other so we are just going to come out and play like any other game.”

Whether or not they’re successful in their best in town game one thing is certain – the Bulldogs have a veteran presence that is hungry for a win and a stake in retaking the county crown.

“We have a team full of seniors and coach is getting ready to retire,” said Ross. “We want to send the team out and coach out with a W in County. We just want to win it.”

On the cover: Anniston’s Tray Croft looks to make a move against White Plains’ Kevin Carr. (Photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

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