E.A. Sports Today

Second-half solution

Anniston boys find a way to get on top after going into halftime down a few points; girls win in big way

Anniston’s James Haynes drives right through the Saks defense for one of his third-quarter baskets Friday night. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The trouble the Anniston basketball team has had breaking away from a tight first half this year has become so frustrating it’s keeping some Bulldogs up at night.

Before Friday night, the Bulldogs had played four games in which they trailed by two points or less at halftime and lost all four of them.

They found themselves in the situation again Friday in an area game against Saks, but this time they overcame the deficit and knocked off the Wildcats 45-42.

To see a photo gallery from the boys game visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

“I don’t know if it’s a breakthrough,” Anniston coach Torry Brown said, “but we played better the second half tonight because we were more aggressive than we have (been) in those other games.”

The Bulldogs (2-6) have been in every game this season but one; they just hadn’t learned to finish. They trailed Smiths Station, Sacred Heart and Handley by one at halftime and Talladega by two earlier this season – they were down five at the half with Sylacauga — and lost them all.

It was frustrating.

“I couldn’t sleep at night, I just wanted to win bad,” Bulldogs guard LaDreka Hall said.

“He’s not the only one,” said Brown. “I’m sure quite a few of us haven’t been able to sleep at night. It was just good to get a win. We needed one.”

The difference this time was the Bulldogs didn’t settle for the quick jumper, were more aggressive getting to the basket and avoided stretches of consecutive turnovers. At the same time, Saks couldn’t find the range after hitting five 3-pointers for all its field goals in the first half.

Zay Elston banked one in at the first-quarter buzzer, then DeVaughan Beason and C.J. Lauderdale – the two players on the Saks basketball roster who didn’t play football – each hit two before the run ended.

Anniston trailed 17-16 at halftime. The Bulldogs were down 23-18 midway through the third quarter, too, then broke off a 20-5 run over the next eight minutes to take a 38-28 lead with 4:10 to play.

Everybody had a hand in it.

“We did what coach told us to do,” senior James Haynes said. “He told us we had to slow the game down to our pace and we were able to execute. Before we were rushing the game, we weren’t executing and we had a lot of turnovers. We just weren’t playing as a team, but tonight I feel like we actually played as a team and we got the job done.”

The Wildcats battled back and Darien Briskey’s layup with 11 seconds left cut Anniston’s lead to 45-42. They had a final shot to force overtime after Anniston missed a pair of free throws with five seconds left, but Laderrick Bell’s 3-pointer from near midcourt at the buzzer missed the mark.

“We’re not in basketball shape right now and that’s to be understood with us (after a long run in the football playoffs),” Saks coach Jonathan Miller said. “I’m not upset at missing those shots; we don’t have our legs yet and that’s just part of it and the reason we hit some early and couldn’t buy one late.

“We just couldn’t finish. We’ll get better at that as time goes by. We’re going to play a lot during Christmas break and that’s going to help us more than anything. This time last year we weren’t very good either and all the games we played over Christmas break helped us find our basketball legs and we had a strong January and February.”

Brown is expecting the same thing to happen with his team as well.

“We’re still in the learning process, but we’re settling into who we are and we’re getting more comfortable with who we are,” he said. “So hopefully the second half is going to help all that. We’ve just got to stay the course because I don’t think we’re anywhere near where we can be at the end of the year.”

Girls overwhelm Saks

The Anniston girls had an easier time of it, holding Saks to four points and two field goals through the first three quarters and winning 77-11. The Lady Dawgs haven’t lost an area game in more than six years.

Anniston held the Lady Wildcats scoreless for the first seven minutes in the first quarter and the entire third, but early on coach Eddie Bullock didn’t seem happy. Once he got his players attention with wholesale substitutions they clamped down and smothered their visitors.

Four Anniston players scored in double figures. Toniah Foster dominated inside with 17 points and Allasha Dudley was the outside threat with four 3-pointers among her 14 points.

Boys game
Anniston 45, Saks 42
SAKS (1-1) –
Darien Briskey 3 4-13 10, DeVaughan Beason 5 1-1 14, Laderrick Bell 1 0-0 2, Brent Clark 0 0-0 0, C.J. Lauderdale 2 0-0 6, Zay Elston 2 0-2 5, Deveon Dukes 0 0-0 0, Marreo Thomas 0 0-0 0, Jaylen Young 1 0-0 2, Tyler Smith 1 1-2 3. Totals 15 6-18 42.

ANNISTON (2-6) – Savion Bethune 1 0-4 2, James Haynes 2 5-7 9, Jimme Felton 0 0-0 0, Kwame Milton 0 0-0 0, William Fairley 2 0-0 5, Dontavious Davis 1 2-4 4, Hunter Rouse 2 0-0 4, LaDreka Hall 3 2-6 8, Theron Montgomery 2 1-5 5, Chance Young 4 0-2 8. Totals 17 10-25 45.

Saks 5 12 8 17 — 42
Anniston 9 8 12 17 — 45

3-point goals: Saks 6 (Beason 3, Lauderdale 2, Elston); Anniston 1 (Fairley). Fouled out: Beason. Total fouls: Saks 21, Anniston 19. Officials: A. Smith, S. Smith, Stringer.

Girls game
Anniston 77, Saks 11
Amya Carlisle 1 0-0 2, Stefanie Christopher 0 0-2 0, Takeidra Borden 1 0-5 2, Teana Edwards 0 0-0 0, Takiera Hudson 0 0-0 0, Deja Almon 0 0-0 0, Miracle Dennard 1 0-2 3, Dearian Stewart 0 0-2 0, Alexis Petty 0 0-0 0, Miracle Bass 2 0-0 4, Destini Elston 0 0-1 0. Totals 5 0-12 11.

ANNISTON – Allasha Dudley 5 0-3 14, Anna Garrett 4 1-2 9, Ladajah Williams 2 1-4 5, Amoriya Dudley 1 2-2 4, Jordyn Johnson 0 0-2 0, Montiega Clemons 2 1-2 6, Tekyia Jackson 3 5-7 11, Kiana Montgomery 4 3-4 11, Jasmine Spinks 0 0-0 0, Toniah Foster 8 1-2 17. Totals 29 14-28 77.

Saks 2 2 0 7 — 11
Anniston 26 14 27 10 — 77

3-point goals: Saks 1 (Dennard); Anniston 5 (Al. Dudley 4, Clemons). Fouled out: Montgomery. Total fouls: Saks 22, Anniston 17. Officials: Roberts, A. Smith, S. Smith.

Anniston’s LaDreka Hall (15) and Saks’ Darien Briskey battle for a rebound in the second half Friday night. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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