E.A. Sports Today

Saks celebrates area crown

Lady Wildcats use speed and defense to pull away from Jacksonville for first area girls basketball title since 2010

Nothing but net! BryAnna Browning gets her strand as the Saks girls basketball team takes turns cutting the net after winning the area championship Friday night. (Photo by Jason Katz)

Nothing but net! BryAnna Browning gets her strand as the Saks girls basketball team takes turns cutting the net after winning the area championship Friday night. (Photo by Jason Katz)

By Jason Katz
For East Alabama Sports Today

Michelle Lively looked out over the crowd as she relished the Class 4A Area 11 championship her Saks girls basketball team just won and saw something special. Her brother, who flew in from New York just for this occasion, and her best friend were standing side-by-side cheering Michelle and her team on.

Saks did something special indeed Friday night as it beat Jacksonville 58-46 to clinch the Lady Wildcats’ first area girls basketball title since 2010 and first at home since 2009.

Not only was Lively’s brother, Matt Morgan, back in time to celebrate the moment, It was like a family reunion with mom, dad, sister and in-laws on hand as well.

“It is so special having them down here watching this amazing team of ours,” Lively said. “I could hear my brother the whole time he was cheering and I was getting kind of nervous while the game was close because I knew I wouldn’t hear the end if it from him when I got home.”

With all these important people in town for the big game the Lady Wildcats (25-6) felt some pregame jitters as they knew this was the biggest game in their program in nearly half a decade.

Bry’Anna Browning and Daja’ Johnson both had 17 points for the Lady Wildcats with seven and six rebounds respectively. Jordan Briskey had 13 points, while Tayler Teague had six rebounds and four points.

With the win, the Lady Wildcats will host Area 12 runnerup Crossville in the subregional Monday while Jacksonville will travel to Area 12 champion Hokes Bluff.

“We just wanted to come out and play our best, but that was kind of tough to do because I think we were a little anxious before the game,” Browning said. “We were not worried while we trailed and we knew just keep playing our game and good things would come. It’s hard to beat a team three times, let alone four, but we came through tonight.”

Jacksonville played a tough game. The Golden Eagles shot 55 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the foul line. But as Saks started increasing the pressure in the latter stages of the game Jacksonville recorded the majority of its 34 turnovers limiting its ability to make strong offensive possessions.

“You have to give them credit; they played an excellent game tonight,” Lively said. “I don’t think anyone was expecting that, but we stepped up and made adjustments and played much better in the second half.”

Aniya Jefferson led the Golden Eagles with 18 points and six rebounds, while Ataliya Morgan had 12 points.

The winners of Monday night’s games advance to the Northeast Regional. The Lady Wildcats would like to be in that number, but even with a 17-game winning streak they know there have some work to do.

“We have to work on a few things before next week,” Lively said. “I have brought in JV coach Kyle Kilgore to help on the bench and point things out that we do not notice during the game. He is a big help on that staff and if we keep making the right decisions we can keep advancing.”

Saks 58, Jacksonville 46

JACKSONVILLE – Aniya Jefferson 9-11 0-0 18, Ataliya Morgan 3-10 4-4 12, Kyra Williams 3-4 0-0 6, Dasia Kirksey 2-6 0-1 4, Aniyah Robinson 2-2 0-0 4, Kelsey Ervin 1-3 0-0 2, Kayla Broome 0-0 0-0 0, Essence Hutchinson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-36 4-5 46

SAKS (25-6) – BryAnna Browning 7-15 3-5 17, Daja Johnson 5-13 5-6 17, Jordan Briskey 3-7 5-6 13, Tayler Teague 2-4 0-3 4, Maiya Northard 2-8 0-0 4, Miracle Dennard 1-5 0-0 3, TeeTee Jenkins 0-2 0-0 0, Talisa Christian 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-54 13-20 58.

Jacksonville 8 14 16 8 — 46
Saks 11 6 20 21 — 58

3-point goals: Jacksonville 2-7 (Morgan 2-6, Kirksey 0-1); Saks 5-17 (Johnson 2-7, Briskey 2-3, Teague 0-1, Northard 0-1, Dennard 1-5). Rebounds: Jacksonville 29 (Kirksey 9); Saks 30 (Browning 7, Johnson 6, Teague 6). Fouled out: Williams. Total fouls: Jacksonville 16, Saks 10.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login