E.A. Sports Today

Stephens’ return sparks Faith

Class 1A girls: Senior guard enjoys double-double as Lady Lions outlast Donoho; JCA falls to hot-shooting Spring Garden

By Jason Katz
For East Alabama Sports Today

Madison Stephens practiced for the first time in nearly two weeks Tuesday, and that was only for 15 minutes shooting the ball just to get a feel for the court again.

She has been battling mononucleosis throughout this second half of the season and as a senior it has put a damper on her final year of play. But on Wednesday, when her team needed her most, she was there to deliver, carrying it to a 51-45 victory over Donoho in the Class 1A Area 12 girls tournament semifinals.

Stephens scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to surpass 1,600 career points. Most importantly, she scored 10 of her points in the decisive fourth quarter, going 6-of-11 from the foul line.

“It has been really challenging to play with this illness all season,” Stephens said. “Really tonight I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates and especially the younger players like Kristen (Covington) and Emily (Sills) who really stepped up.”

The Lady Lions (9-9) squeaked by Donoho in a game that was tied at the end of every quarter until Faith outscored the Lady Falcons in the fourth 14-8.

“I have some mixed emotions about tonight,” Faith coach Bradley Dawson said. “We did not box out very well, but we found a way to win and that is what you want when things are not going very well for you.”

Faith will play Ragland for the area title Friday at 7 p.m. The teams cross with Area 8 finalists Winterboro and Talladega County Central.

Stephens now has 1,619 career points. While she was the statistical star of the game, help from younger players was the key to the Lady Lions’ fourth-quarter surge.

JV point guard Covington, who was recently called up to the varsity, played like a veteran on a mission as she battled Donoho players consistently throughout the evening.

“Playing up on varsity is always exciting,” Covington said. “I always have great support from my teammates around me and really enjoy the chance to succeed on this big of a stage.”

Covington and freshman Emily Sills combined for 16 points and eight rebounds.

“I expect Madison to step up in big games; she’s a senior,” Dawson said. “But for those young players to step up on this level like they have is truly exciting.”

Donoho (3-15) was led by Lauren Holbrook who was not only excellent from the paint with 16 points, but put up a stellar defensive effort with 16 rebounds. Constance Hodges had 15 points and 12 rebounds.

“They came out and had a great game plan against us and made us work hard,” Stephens said. “I am glad though we could put together some free throws at the end and clinch the victory.”

Now, Faith, founded as a school in 1978, will be looking for its first area championship in girls basketball since moving to the AHSAA in 2002. The Lady Lions played in the substate two years ago at Skyline.

“This is a big deal to us and our school,” Stephens said. “This will set the bar high for the future and hopefully I will be able to get that area championship before I graduate.”

Spring Garden 58, JCA 34

SPRING GARDEN – Jacksonville Christian’s Joeley Cupp connected on four 3-pointers — three in the first half — and finished with 14 points, but they weren’t enough as the Thunder fell to fourth-ranked Spring Garden.

The Lady Panthers (25-4) will face No. 10 Cedar Bluff (18-9) for the area championship Friday at 7 p.m. Cedar Bluff defeated Coosa Christian 58-44.

As hot as the Thunder (15-8) was from the perimeter in the first half, Spring Garden was even hotter. The Lady Panthers sank eight 3s in the half, 11 in the game.

JCA trailed 13-10 after the first quarter before Spring Garden connected on five 3s to take a 28-16 halftime lead. The Lady Panthers blew it open in third with a 17-6 run to take a 45-22 advantage.

Madison Sides led Spring Garden with 15 points on five 3s; she also had five assists and three steals. Kerstin Bryant (13) and Savannah Dempsey (11) both sank three 3s. Tykeah Rogers finished with 13 points, 11 boards and four steals.

Kayla Barnes drained a pair of 3-pointers and finished with 12 points for JCA. — Shannon Fagan


Faith Christian 51, Donoho 45

DONOHO (3-15) – Anna Marie Woodfin 1 1-6 3, Kirin Heathcock 0 0-0 0, Campbell Hagan 1 0-0 2, Alysse Lalonde 0 0-0 0, Savannah Frickey 1 1-2 3, Constance Hodges 5 4-8 15, Jenna Stremmel 3 0-0 6, Lauren Holbrook 7 2-3 16. Totals 18 8-19 45.

FAITH CHRISTIAN (9-9) — Logan Boyd 1 1-2 3, Emily Sills 4 0-0 9, Madison Stephens 6 9-18 22, Sarah Jessica Christjohn 0 0-0 0, Sarah Kate McVeigh 2 1-4 5, Kristin Covington 2 3-4 7, Sydnee Johnson 2 0-0 4, Regan Crosby 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 14-28 51.

Donoho 12 11 14 8 — 45
Faith Christian 12 11 14 14 — 51

3-point goals: Donoho 1 (Hodges); Faith 3 (Boyd, Sills, Stephens). Fouled out: Sills. Total fouls: Donoho 20, Faith 20. Officials: Gamble, Smith, Harvey.

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