E.A. Sports Today

Oxford edges PV, reaches girls final

Lady Yellow Jackets rally from halftime deficit; win forces coach to change her Championship Saturday routine for the better

Tremeria Britt's layup with less than two minutes to play gave Oxford the lead for good in its semifinal game with Pleasant Valley. (Photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

Tremeria Britt’s layup with less than two minutes to play gave Oxford the lead for good in its semifinal game with Pleasant Valley. (Photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Oxford girls basketball coach Tonya Peoples – happily – is going to have to change her family tradition for Championship Saturday in the Calhoun County Basketball Tournament.

Normally, Peoples and her family start the day with a trip to The Rocket for burgers and barbecue before making their way to Pete Mathews Coliseum and settling into their seats for a night of championship basketball.

Her seat is going to change this year. For the first time in Peoples’ five-year tenure, the Lady Yellow Jackets are in the County Tournament championship game.

They punched their ticket Friday with a 51-48 victory over Pleasant Valley that went down to the wire.

The eighth-seeded 6A Lady Jackets will play second-seeded Saks at 6 p.m. Saturday. It’s their first trip to the title game since 2007, the last of three straight trips. Their last title came in 2006, when they beat Saks.

“I’ve been sitting in the stands eating popcorn on Saturday night,” Peoples said. “My husband says the other night we might just need to go up there (to The Rocket) Thursday night just in case because we’re going to miss out on our tradition because you might be coaching. I said I’ll take that; let’s start a new tradition.”

Last year Peoples and her people got to sit in the front row, but she’d much rather occupy the seat he’ll never sit in Saturday night.

“That’s the best seat in the house,” she said.

The Oxford coach doesn’t believe the moment will be too big for her team. They will approach it like another game.

“You’ve got to stay focused on what it is,” she said. “It’s a game, it’s a competition and you’ve got to be ready to play. It’s what we’ve worked for, it’s an opportunity, and we want to finish it.”

Oxford trailed most of the game and rallied from a 27-18 halftime deficit. The Lady Jackets outrebounded PV in the half 25-18, but shot less than 20 percent from the floor.

Tremeria Britt’s fast-break layup with 1:53 to go put the Lady Jackets ahead for the first time since Winter Taylor’s game-opening 3-pointer, then Taylor extended the lead with two free throws with 28.1 seconds left.

PV had two chances to get the tying shots. Kara Perry and Kendall Johnson missed short shots on either side of the basket with about 15 seconds left. They got the ball back with 7.5 seconds left and called time to set up a game-tying 3 from Atleigh Brannon, but the play never materialized and they missed their final two shots as the horn sounded.

The fourth-seeded Lady Raiders had won 11 in a row.

Britt broke in on her go-ahead layup after a precisely placed pass to her left hand from Taylor. There was nothing but the goal in front of her when the Britt collected the ball, perhaps the hardest layup to make in the game. The sophomore missed a similar layup earlier in the game.

“I saw Trem on the left-hand side so I didn’t even hesitate throwing it to her,” Taylor said. “If she had been on the right-hand side I might have hesitated. I love Trem to death and I had confidence in her.”

“I saw an opponent behind me, but I had confidence I was going to make it,” Britt said. “I knew if I made it we would most likely have this game.”

Taylor finished with 15 points. Britt had nine points. Ebony Kelley grabbed 11 rebounds and Jordan Smith had 10.

“I didn’t make any points today, but my team helped me come back,” Britt said. “If one of us has the energy, we all gain it.”

The Lady Raiders built their early lead through some strong play from their posts on the boards and around the basket and their outside shot. Mikala Simpson had 15 points, including an early four-point play, Perry finished with 12. PV hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter, two by Brannon.

Brannon had 10 points and Mac Parris, whose status for the game was uncertain after hurting her ankle in the quarterfinals, played and scored 11 with three 3-pointers.

Oxford 51, Pleasant Valley 48

OXFORD – Anna Bolton 3 0-0 7, Makayla Kidd 1 0-0 2, Winter Taylor 5 4-5 15, Kayla Lowery 0 0-0 0, Acacia Kidd 2 0-0 4, Tremeria Britt 4 0-0 9, Ebony Kelley 4 1-3 9, Jordan Smith 2 0-0 4. Totals 21 5-8 19 51.

PLEASANT VALLEY – Kara Perry 4 4-5 12, Lindsey Pritchett 0 0-0 0, Mckinley Parris 4 0-0 11, Atleigh Brannon 3 2-2 10, Kendall Johnson 0 0-0 0, Mikala Simpson 5 4-5 15 Courtney Upton 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 10-12 48.

Oxford 11 7 19 14 — 51
Pleasant Val. 15 12 14 7 — 48

3-point goals: Oxford 4 (Bolton, Taylor 2, Britt); Pleasant Valley 5 (Parris 3, Brannon 2, Simpson). Total fouls: Oxford 11, Pleasant Valley 12.

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