E.A. Sports Today

‘Mama Maiya’ leads Saks into girls final

Northard exerts her calming influence over Lady Wildcats, scores 20 and has a chance to fulfill a dream

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Maiya Northard has been dreaming about being in the position she finds herself today for a long time.

She has always wanted to play – and win – a Calhoun County championship and now she is in a position to literally fulfill a life’s dream.

Sticking to their motto of throwing the first punch, the Saks girls basketball team struck early and often in beating Jacksonville 50-25 Thursday in the second girls semifinal at Pete Mathews Coliseum.

The second-seeded Lady Wildcats meet No. 8 Oxford in the girls title game Saturday at 6 p.m. It’s their first trip to the finals since beating Wellborn for the crown in 2010.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Northard said. “We’re ready for it. We’ve been dreaming for this for a long time.

“Ever since I’ve been in the ninth grade we’ve been wanting this. We’ve said this is our year. We knew we could get here but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We knew everybody was going to be after us. Now we just have to prove to everybody why we’re here and why we’re going to win it.”

Coach Michelle Lively called it “remarkable” what her team can accomplish when they set their minds to it.

Northard, a junior called “Mama Maiya” by her teammates for the calming influence she exerts on her team, led Saks with 20 points. She had eight of the Lady Wildcats’ first 12 points and 14 in the first half. Bre Browning had 12.

Northard’s influence played a big role even before the Lady Wildcats got to the gym. She was watching film on Jacksonville in Lively’s office while the team was waiting on the buses that were going take them to the arena “to watch the team we’re going to play (in the finals)” when it appeared the buses were having conflicts related to the weather.

Lively, a self-described “big-time panicker,” was in that mode when the transportation issues arose and Northard told her to relax, because when Lively’s rushes, the team tends to rush.

The Lady Wildcats couldn’t have been more relaxed in their approach to the Golden Eagles. They scored the first 12 points of the game and continued to pour it on.
It was 26-12 at halftime.

“Like I’ve been telling everyone, we’ve always been overlooked and this year we really got what we wanted,” Northard said. “We’ve been the favorite and we just wanted to let everybody know why we’re the favorite and why we got picked No. 2 – we were No. 15 last year, so it’s a big difference. We’re just trying to let everybody know we’re here and we’re staying and that’s just how we’re gonna do it.”

Saks 50, Jacksonville 25

JACKSONVILLE – Kyra Williams 5-17 0-0 10, Dasia Kirksey 1-7 2-2 4, Kelsey Ervin 2-3 0-0 4, Essence Hutchinson 1-1 1-2 3, Ataliya Morgan 1-9 0-2 2, Aniya Jefferson 1-3 0-0 2, Malieah Patterson 0-2 0-0 0, Aniyah Robinson 0-3 0-0 0, Destoni Edwards 0-1 0-1 0, Kianna Guidry 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-46 3-7 25.

SAKS – Maiya Northard 10-18 0-0 20, Bre Browning 6-7 0-2 12, Jordan Briskey 1-2 7-8 9, Daja Johnson 1-3 4-6 6, Tayler Teague 1-3 1-2 3, Teetee Jenkins 0-3 0-0 0, Sabrea Bean 0-0 0-0 0, Ayanna Bradberry 0-0 0-0 0, Talisa Christian 0-1 0-0 0, Mirace Dennard 0-0 0-0 0, Christie Gooden 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-39 12-18 50.

Jacksonville 4 8 4 9 — 25
Saks 14 12 18 6 — 50

3-point goals: Jacksonville 0-13 (Williams 0-2, Kirksey 0-4, Morgan 0-6, Patterson 0-1); Saks 0-2 (Northard 0-1, Christian 0-1). Rebounds: Jacksonville 28 (Williams 7); Saks 34 (Teague 9, Browning 9). Total fouls: Jacksonville 16, Saks 11.

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