E.A. Sports Today

Saks, J’ville reach girls final

Saks pulls away from a close game with a 32-4 run; Jacksonville takes control of its game behind Williams’ big third quarter

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Michelle Lively was a nervous wreck, as usual, before Saks played in its area tournament opener Wednesday. But not surprisingly she wasn’t worried at all when the game was at its tightest in the second quarter.

Lively’s top-seeded 10th-ranked Lady Wildcats won their 4A Area 11 opener in a 64-43 rout of Cleburne County in a game that somewhat mirrored their season. It was tight early on, then they pulled away.

They will play second-seeded Jacksonville for the area title; the Golden Eagles defeated White Plains 39-22 behind Kyra Williams’ 12-point third quarter. The teams will cross over with Area 12 finalists Hokes Bluff and Crossville in the sub-regional round.

Would you believe the one-sided Saks game was 20-18 game at one point in the second quarter? In a game where the losers’ season was done, a crushing ending for a team on such a roll as the Lady Wildcats (24-6), it might have kept a coach on edge.

But Lively and the Lady Wildcats weren’t worried. They proceeded to go on an 11-1 run to open a 12-point lead at halftime that ultimately morphed into a 32-4 run by the fourth quarter.

“We’ve kind of started off a little bit rocky every time we’ve played them,” Lively said. “They gave us a fight; they didn’t just lay down because they were the fourth seed. … We proved to be mentally tougher. If we would’ve been mentally weak we probably would have lost that game.”

How does the game mirror their season? At one point the Lady Wildcats were 8-6 and now they’re on a 16-game winning streak.

“They just have this aura about them that they’re just going to do it and they know what needs to be done,” Lively said. “I tell you all the time I’m real panicky. I’ve been anxious about the game. Bry (Browning) called me into my office about 4 o’clock and said I need you to take about two deep breaths and just calm down. I’m telling you we’re fine, but if you’re not relaxed, we’re not relaxed. One of them does it every game, they come up and say we’re fine.”

Miracle Dennard hit back-to-back 3s late in the second-quarter portion of the big run and Tayler Teague had seven points in the third-quarter part of it. Dennard hit all three of her 3-point shots and was 4-for-4 from the floor overall for 11 points.

Maiya Northard got the third quarter started with a 3 and finished with 13 points.

“We just tried to go at it,” Teague said of the team’s third-quarter start. “All she said was put more pressure on the team and that’s all we had to do, because we had it. We just weren’t playing to our full capability. Once we realized we had to start putting more pressure on them, that’s what we did.”

Jacksonville 39, White Plains 22: Kyra Williams is quiet and shy by nature, but she was loud – really loud – in the third quarter against the Lady Wildcats.

The sophomore scored all 12 of her points in the quarter as the Golden Eagles pulled away from a close and low-scoring first half.

“At halftime we talked about executing a little bit, playing with a little more intensity and gave her the green light that if she’s got the shot she needs to be aggressive with and she was,” Jacksonville coach Tres Buzan said. “She’s the type of player she’s good enough that if she gets hot she’ll score a lot of quickly. We needed her to do that to win games.”

The Golden Eagles entered the third quarter leading 16-12. Aniyah Robinson got the second-half scoring started, then Williams hit the first of her two 3-pointers in the quarter and came right behind it with two free throws.

After White Plains finally broke through in the half, Williams scored the next seven points to give Jacksonville an 18-point lead. She also had six assists, four rebounds and two steals.

“We had to pick it up,” she said. “It was a close game and if we didn’t win our season would’ve been over. I wanted to do what I could so our seniors could keep playing.”

Ataliya Morgan had half of Jacksonville’s points in the first half and finished with 10. Robinson added eight.

Ann Katherine Dothard was White Plains’ leading scorer with six points. Hannah Barno returned to the Lady Wildcats’ lineup for the first time since before the Calhoun County Tournament and hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter.


Jacksonville 39, White Plains 22

WHITE PLAINS – Ann Katherine Dothard 2-4 2-5 6, Shelby Wood 2-11 1-3 5, Ary Rosario 1-5 1-2 3, Hannah Barno 1-2 0-0 3, Chasity Nelson 1-3 0-2 3, Mary Claire Young 1-3 0-0 2, Hannah Dyar 0-0 0-0 0, Jocelyn Harris 0-2 0-0 0, Korie Burgess 0-2 0-1 0, Rian Chandler 0-3 0-0 0, Grey Young 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 8-39 4-12 22.

JACKSONVILLE – Kyra Williams 4-10 2-2 12, Ataliya Morgan 4-9 0-1 10, Aniyah Robinson 4-11 0-0 8, Dasia Kirksey 2-6 1-2 5, Aniya Jefferson 1-4 0-0 2, Kelsey Ervin 1-2 0-0 2, Kayla Broom 0-0 0-0 0, Essence Hutchinson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-42 3-5 39.

White Plains 4 8 5 5 — 22
Jacksonville 9 7 17 6 — 39

3-point goals: White Plains 2-13 (Wood 0-5, Barno 1-2, Nelson 1-3, Burgess 0-1, G. Young 0-2); Jacksonville 4-10 (Williams 2-4, Morgan 2-5, Kirskey 0-1). Rebounds: White Plains 24 (Rosario 7); Jacksonville 38 (Kirksey 9, Jefferson 8). Total fouls: White Plains 8, Jacksonville 15. Officials: Williams, Beard, Battles.

Saks 64, Cleburne County 43

CLEBURNE COUNTY (13-13) – Chelsea Parker 4-5 3-4 11, Alex Casey 4-8 1-4 9, Lauren Brown 4-6 0-0 8, Erykah Ware 1-5 4-4 6, Shawntavia Boyd 1-4 1-3 3, Abby Lee 0-0 2-2 2, Bailey Norton 1-2 0-0 2, Tatiana Ervin 1-2 0-0 2, Madison Jones 0-0 0-1 0, Molly Hester 0-0 0-2 0, Briana Roberts 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-32 11-20 43.

SAKS (24-6) – Maiya Northard 4-7 4-7 13, Jordan Briskey 2-6 7-10 11, Miracle Dennard 4-4 0-0 11, Tayler Teague 4-7 1-2 9, BryAnna Browning 0-4 8-16 8, Tee Tee Jenkins 4-7 0-0 8, Daja Johnson 1-5 1-3 3, Talisa Christian 0-1 1-2 1, SaBrea Bean 0-0 0-0 0, Ayanna Bradberry 0-0 0-0 0, Christie Gooden 0-1 0-0 0, Mckenzie Heard 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-42 22-40 64.

Cleburne County 10 9 3 21 — 43
Saks 18 13 18 15 — 64

3-point goals: Cleburne Co. 0-2 (Boyd 0-2); Saks 4-9 (Northard 1-1, Briskey 0-1, Dennard 3-3, Johnson 0-3, Christian 0-1). Rebounds: Cleburne Co. 26 (Jones 6); Saks 26 (Teague 7, Browning 6). Fouled out: Parker, Boyd, Ervin, Jones, Browning. Total fouls: Cleburne Co. 25, Saks 22. Officials: Williams, Beard, Battles.

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