E.A. Sports Today

Bulldogs bite Wellborn again

Bulldogs rally to beat Panthers for second time in nine days; Carter overcomes foul trouble to lead Wellborn girls

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

ANNISTON — Tommy Lewis expected it was going to be a lot closer than the last time — and it was.

While Piedmont may have had its way with Wellborn in their 8/9-seed Calhoun County Tournament meeting nine days earlier, the Bulldogs had a fight on their hands Monday night.

They had to rally from a 12-point halftime deficit and three down with 1:45 to play to get past the Panthers 65-60.

The difference was doing the little things down the stretch and scoring the last eight points of the game.

“They just started doing some things you had to do,” Lewis said. “The thing we talked about at halftime was you’re all great athletes, you can do the big things, but what I can’t get you to do is the little things.”

Taylor Hayes led the Bulldogs with 25 points, five steals and five rebounds. He made a couple effort plays at the start of the second half to get the Bulldogs going and then made four straight free throws in the final minute after Weston Kirk gave them the lead for good with 1:23 to play.

The Bulldogs were 10-for-18 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter and made six in a row at one point down the stretch.

“The difference was coming out and boxing out and taking charges; that’s what kind of got their best players out,” Hayes said. “Blake (Hanson) and Jordan (Montgomery), they kind of got in a rhythm, but we started taking charges they were a little bit more timid going inside and couldn’t really play their game.”

Hanson led all scorers with 26 points. He scored a tournament-high 33 points against the Bulldogs in the county tournament game, but was left off the all-tournament team. Montgomery, who missed the game on a football recruiting visit, had 14 points.

Kirk, an eighth-grader, scored 10 points for the Bulldogs — all in the fourth quarter — after partaking in a practice for Piedmont’s Calhoun County Junior High Tournament opener on Tuesday prior to the game.

“I just came and played my game that I was taught; just go out and do what I do best — score,” Kirk said as his teammates crowded his interview.

“He’s a live wire,” Lewis said. “He’s going to be a very, very good player, there’s no doubt about that.”

Weston’s older brother Easton was instrumental in the comeback, sacrificing his body several times to take charges that changed Wellborn’s fate.

The Bulldogs fell behind at halftime after scoring only eight points. They scored 43 in the second half.

“In the fourth quarter we came out and played hard, boxed out, did what coach asked us to do,” Weston Kirk said. “Coach preached at halftime about taking charges and Easton just came out there and tried to prove that he could. When we play (one-on-one) he just fouls me so I won’t beat him.”

Wellborn girls 52, Piedmont 44

The Lady Panthers got back on the horse after a tough second half in their last game and overcame some real early foul trouble by star Vanessa Carter to win.

Wellborn was held scoreless in the second half by of the county tournament championship game loss to Anniston, but found the basket against the Lady Bulldogs.

“It was great coming out with a win,” Wellborn coach Shanese Morgan said. “We’re still working some kinks out, we’re still a little tired from going on that four-game week last week, but I’m glad we pulled out the win.”

And they did it despite Carter picking up two fouls in the first 45 seconds of the game and three inside of three minutes gone.

She left for the rest of the quarter at that point and Piedmont went on a 10-2 run to open a 12-9 lead. But she returned to start the second quarter and, playing “smart,” wound up scoring 14 points as the Lady Panthers grabbed a 28-27 halftime lead.

In the fourth quarter she scored seven points in an 11-1 run that broke open the game She finished with a game-high 22 points.

“I really hard to play smart, keep my hands up, better defense than I did in the first half,” Carter said. “It kind of was frustrating to start the half like that.”

With Carter unable to be as aggressive because of her foul situation, the Lady Panthers needed others to step up and Itiania Weatherly, Katessa Carter and Aliyah Thrasher filled the bill to keep them in the game.

K. Carter and Thrasher each scored eight points and Weatherly had four, including the basket that gave them the 28-27 halftime lead.

Sydney Prater led Piedmont with 15. Lulu Jackson had 12.

Piedmont 65, Wellborn 60
A.J. Fairs 2 0-0 6, Cardavion Myers 3 1-2 7, Taylor Hayes 8 6-7 25, Derrick Baer 0 0-0 0, Easton Kirk 2 1-2 6, Carl Myers 1 0-2 2, Lee Stanley 0 0-0 0, Austin Brazier 3 3-10 9, Weston Kirk 3 3-5 10, T.J. Fairs 0 0-0 0, Kaedon Jenkins 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 14-28 65.

WELLBORN – Mitchell Raines 2 0-0 5, Eric Johnson 1 0-0 2, Jordan Montgomery 5 2-3 14, Devin Machristie 1 1-2 3, Ked Harris 1 0-0 2, Austin Cooper 0 0-2 0, Blake Hanson 11 3-4 26, Kelvin Evans 3 1-1 7. Totals 24 7-10 60.

Piedmont 14 8 20 23 — 65
Wellborn 16 18 9 17 — 60

3-point goals: Piedmont 7 (A. Fairs 2, Hayes 3, E. Kirk, W. Kirk); Wellborn 5 (Raines, Montgomery 2, Harris, Hanson). Total fouls: Piedmont 11, Wellborn 20. Officials: Hughes, Pratt, Ortiz.

Wellborn 52, Piedmont 44
Breanna Brazier 1 1-2 3, Kaitlyn Ridley 4 1-3 9, Lulu Jackson 5 2-5 12, Camron Logan 0 0-0 0, Cassidy Jackson 0 0-0 0, Sydney Prater 5 2-4 15, Rebecca Smart 2 1-2 5, Kiara Jackson 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 7-16 44.

WELLBORN – Vanessa Carter 10 2-6 24, Anaya Lowe 2 0-0 4, Loni Welch 0 0-0 0, McKenzie Raines 1 0-2 2, Katessa Carter 3 0-0 8, Itiania Weatherly 2 0-4 4, Aliyah Thrasher 3 0-0 8, MarKeisha Jones 0 2-2 2. Totals 21 4-14 52.

Piedmont 12 15 8 9 — 44
Wellborn 9 19 10 14 — 52

3-point goals: Piedmont 3 (Prater 3); Wellborn 6 (V. Carter 2, K. Carter 2, Thrasher 2). Total fouls: Piedmont 9, Wellborn 15. Officials: Hughes, Pratt, Ortiz.

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