E.A. Sports Today

One for the thumb

County tourney at JSU: Beason comes back from thumb injury to lead Saks over Alexandria; Oxford sweeps, J’ville girls win

Kendrick Foster (10), Oxford’s ‘energy guy,’ goes between Piedmont’s Delo Foster (R) and Ryley Kirk during Friday’s Calhoun County Tournament quarterfinals. (Photo by Dave Brandsma)

(Games at Jacksonville State)
Boys Games

Saks 61, Alexandria 58
Oxford 82, Piedmont 46
Girls Games
Oxford 65, Wellborn 43
Jacksonville 52, Pleasant Valley 34

(Games at Oxford Sports Arena)
Boys Games

Anniston 54, Jacksonville 32
Sacred Heart 84, Weaver 58
Girls Games
Piedmont 62, Alexandria 60
Anniston 78, Weaver 25

Saturday’s Games
(at Jacksonville State)
Boys semifinals

Sacred Heart vs. Anniston, 5:30 p.m.
Oxford vs. Saks, 8:30 p.m.
Girls semifinals
Anniston vs. Piedmont, 4 p.m.
Oxford vs. Jacksonville, 7 p.m.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – The biggest question facing the Saks basketball team going into Friday night’s Calhoun County Tournament quarterfinals was whether DeVaunghn Beason was going to be available and if he was how effective would he be.

The senior guard didn’t waste any time providing the answer. The first shot he took rolled softly off his fingers and through the hoop for the first of his five 3-pointers and he was on his way to a big game.

Beason wound up with 27 points and the sixth-seeded Wildcats dumped third-seeded Alexandria 61-58. They now play second-seeded Oxford in Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. boys semifinal at Jacksonville State.

Beason dislocated his thumb in the second quarter of last Friday’s pre-tournament area loss at Handley and did not play in the Wildcats’ tournament-opening victory over JCA Monday. And then the wintry weather set in and nobody played again until Friday.

All eyes were focused on the tunnel leading to the Saks dressing room before the game to see if Beason was dressing and prepared to play. He played with a heavy wrap on his right hand and was seen occasionally gripping the hand to push back the pain that was substantial by game’s end.

“On a scale of 1 to 5 it’s probably a 6 now,” he said. “I just fought through it; I didn’t let the pain bother me in the game. I love the game of basketball. I love my teammates. I don’t want to let anybody down. That’s why I fight through the pain.”

The hardest thing about having the injury is he uses the thumb when he shoots. Still, he nailed five of the 11 3-pointers the Wildcats made in the game, three of the five they hit in the second quarter to grab a 33-32 halftime lead. Laderrick Bell had the other two and three in the game.

The biggest 3 Beason hit was the one he drained in transition with four minutes to play after Alexandria cut what had been a 10-point Saks lead to three.

“Me and Laderrick and Darien (Briskey), we’re the ones who have to step up in scoring,” Beason said. “We have to hit big shots like that, there’s not a lot of scorers on our team who can do it consistently.”

Beason added another layup and a free throw over the next three minutes as Saks pushed the lead to nine. It was a two-point game with 12 seconds left when he hit the second of two free throws to make it 61-58.

“Didn’t know how effective he would be, for sure,” Saks coach Jonathan Miller said. “He didn’t look too effective at practice yesterday. To be honest I didn’t know how anybody was going to play today, but he came out and once you get one or two to fall all bets are off after that. It just shows a lot about his character and just coming up big when we needed him to.”

Alexandria, playing for the first time in 10 days, had a chance to tie it at the end, but Dalton Dodd’s contested 3-point shot just before the buzzer fell short.

Dodd, who played much of the second half in foul trouble, had 15 points. Jake Weathington led the Valley Cubs with 20.

“I don’t think we played that bad, they played better,” Alexandria coach Jason Johnson said. “They shot better. They shot lights out. They’ve got two guys who really shoot it well. You’ve just gotta tip your hat to your opponent.”

Motivated Jackets show no rust

Oxford’s Kendrick Foster follows through with the second dunk of his career Friday. (Photo by Dave Brandsma)

Oxford may be the most motivated team in the Calhoun County Tournament.

The Yellow Jackets are the defending champions but were installed as the second seed this year behind the team they beat in the final a year ago. Don’t think that hasn’t been talked about a time or two in the run-up to the tournament.

Riding that motivation, the Jackets didn’t look like a team that hadn’t played since last Friday or touched a basketball in several days. They jumped out to a big first-quarter lead and routed Piedmont 82-46.

The Yellow Jackets jumped out to a 17-3 lead and stretched it to 23-5 by the end of the first quarter. Piedmont made a few modest runs during the course of the game, but it only put a scratch in the lead Oxford had built.

“Coach told us before the game that we have to bring it because they put us at No. 2 and we won last year,” senior forward Markise Davis said. “He just said always remember 2; just play, play hard, show them who we are. We won, we should be No. 1, but they’re always going to give it to the (Sacred) Heart, so we’ve just got to show them.”

Davis showed out with a game-high 22 points with four 3-pointers. Freshman Roc Thomas had 16 points and 10 rebounds and senior Kendrick Foster had 14, including his second career dunk that brought everyone to their feet.

“We haven’t picked up a basketball in four days, we were so eager to play,” Foster said. “They ranked us 2, so we’re using that as motivation. I’m the energy guy, so I just try to come out and help my team.”

Girls Games

Jacksonville’s Kyra Williams (L), shown defending Pleasant Valley’s Mac Parris, has put up some impressive numbers this season because she’s always working on her game. (Photo by Dave Brandsma)

Jacksonville 52, Pleasant Valley 34: Kyra Williams is the embodiment of that classic fortune printed on the bottom of the old Bazooka Joe bubble-gum comics.

At the bottom of each comic there was a fortune, and one of the more memorable ones read “When everyone else is inside sitting, you’ll be outstanding.”

All of the basketball teams in Calhoun County were stuck inside because of the wintry weather this week. Jacksonville girls coach Tres Buzan even said as much that his girls didn’t touch a basketball for three days as everyone was shut in by the storm.

Well, maybe not everyone. Williams never let a basketball out of her sight. The Lady Golden Eagles’ senior scoring machine found an open gym and worked on her game.

So when the second-seeded Lady Eagles finally got on the floor, the last girls team to play in this year’s County Tournament, it wasn’t surprising Williams went for 32 points and had six steals as her team ran past seventh-seeded Pleasant Valley.

“She always has a basketball in her hands,” Buzan said. “That’s why she does what she does. She’s a gym rat. There’s always been one of those (in the program) – there’s Lacey Buchanan and there’s Angel Kidd and then there’s Kyra. You can’t get a basketball out of those girls’ hands and that’s why they are who they are.

“Other girls I have to text ‘you want to come to the gym and shoot;’ she’s texting me because that’s who she is. If I ever wanted to get a pick up game going, which with girls is freaking hard, I just text her and she gets it going.”

Oxford 65, Wellborn 43: It took Oxford a quarter to shake the rust off, but once it started rebounding and Tremeria Britt got her game on track nothing was going to stand in its way.

When Wellborn’s Vanessa Carter nailed a 3-pointer right out of the gate, it looked as if the third-seeded Lady Jackets were in for a long day. Carter hit three 3s and scored 11 in the quarter and Oxford trailed 15-14, but the Lady Jackets pulled away in the second quarter with Britt scoring 12 of her 19 points and opened a 10-point halftime lead.

“We helped them a lot the first quarter,” Oxford coach Melissa Bennett said. “We were not boxing out, we were not controlling the boards. We looked like we hadn’t touched a basketball since Monday, which is pretty accurate. We played very timid that first quarter, but we started controlling the boards a lot better … and we kind of wore them down and that started showing.”

Cover photo: Saks’ DeVaunghn Beason (2) fires a jumper in a game earlier this season. He hit five 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his 2018 County Tournament debut. (File photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

(Games at Jacksonville State)
Boys Games
Saks 61, Alexandria 58
Darien Briskey 6 3-5 17, DeVaunghn Beason 10 2-6 27, Dee Bell 3 0-0 9, C.J. Lauderdale 1 0-0 3, Zay Elston 0 0-0 0, Daveon Dukes 0 0-0 0, Marreo Thomas 1 0-0 2, Jaylen Young 0 1-6 1, Tyler Smith 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 6-17 61.

ALEXANDRIA – Joseph Tucker 1 1-2 3, Adam Young 1 2-2 5, Jake Weathington 7 1-1 20, Dru Davis 1 0-0 2, Grayson Chaffin 0 0-0 0, Dalton Dodd 7 0-1 15, Romeo Dye 2 1-4 6, Jared Ponder 0 0-0 0, Jalen Borders 2 1-1 5, Josh Tucker 0 0-0 0, Landan Williams 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 6-11 58.

Saks 14 19 18 10 — 61
Alexandria 13 19 13 13 — 58

3-point goals: Saks 11 (Briskey 2, Beason 5, Bell 3, Lauderdale); Alexandria 8 (Young, Weathington 5, Dodd, Dye). Total fouls: Saks 13, Alexandria 13.

Oxford 82, Piedmont 46
Carl Myers 2 1-4 6, Kaedon Jenkins 1 0-0 2, Delo Foster 1 0-0 2, Ryley Kirk 2 2-2 7, Lee Stanley 5 3-5 14, Silas Thompson 2 1-2 5, Alex Odam 0 2-2 2, T.J. Fairs 3 2-6 8. Totals 16 11-21 46.

OXFORD – Kobe Warren 0 0-0 0, Markise Davis 9 0-0 22, Simeon Shadrix 3 0-0 8, Mont McClendon 1 0-0 2, Roc Taylor 8 0-0 16, Kendrick Foster 7 0-0 14, Eugene Leonard 3 3-4 9, Braden Mack 3 1-1 7, Trafton Houck 1 0-0 2, Rylen Houck 1 0-0 2. Totals 36 4-5 82.

Piedmont 5 21 11 9 — 46
Oxford 23 18 24 15 — 82

3-point goals: Piedmont 3 (Myers, Kirk, Stanley); Oxford 6 (Davis 4, Shadrix 2). Total fouls: Piedmont 7, Oxford 20.

Girls Games
Oxford 65, Wellborn 43
Taliyah Kirby 1 1-2 4, Vanessa Carter 7 6-10 24, Itiania Weatherly 3 0-3 6, Katessa Carter 2 1-2 5, Cloie Adkinson 0 0-0 0, Markeisha Jones 2 0-4 4. Totals 15 8-21 43.

OXFORD – Anna Bolton 3 2-2 8, Makayla Kidd 3 2-3 8, Halaya Harmon 0 0-0 0, Ashleigh Jackson 4 0-0 8, Trem Britt 7 3-4 19, Akiera Robinson 3 0-0 6, Mari Lindsey 0 0-2 0, Jamyia Byrd 2 0-0 4, Justyce Smith 4 2-4 10, Kaylyn Hendrix 1 0-0 2. Totals 27 9-15 65.

Wellborn 15 13 4 11 — 43
Oxford 14 24 12 15 — 65

3-point goals: Wellborn 5 (Kirby, V. Carter 4); Oxford 2 (Britt 2). Total fouls: Wellborn 12, Oxford 18. Officials: Whitten, Jackson, Hodge.

Jacksonville 52, Pleasant Valley 34
Karmyn Sparks 5-10 2-2 12, Emma Hood 5-12 1-4 11, Mac Parris 3-11 2-2 9, Brooke Perry 1-1 0-0 2, Alyssa Cash 0-0 0-0 0, Chandler Dorsett 0-0 0-0 0, Lindsey Pritchett 0-2 0-0 0, Rylee Haynes 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-37 5-8 34.

JACKSONVILLE – Kyra Williams 11-19 8-11 32, Kayla Broom 4-11 3-4 11, Brenna Stone 2-4 0-0 4, Patience Carr 1-2 1-2 3, Elizabeth Poe 1-4 0-0 2, Essence Hutchinson 0-8 0-0 0, Maddie Hall 0-0 0-0 0, Malijah Goggins 0-0 0-0 0, TiAsia Williams 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-48 12-17 52.

Pleasant Valley 2 8 11 13 — 34
Jacksonville 13 13 13 13 — 52

3-point goals: PV 1-9 (Parris 1-7, Pritchett 0-2); Jacksonville 2-13 (K. Williams 2-6, Broom 0-1, Hutchinson 0-6). Rebounds: PV 30 (Sparks 10); Jacksonville 30 (Broom 7, Stone 6). Total fouls: PV 12, Jacksonville 13. Officials: Vaughn, Madsen, Holston

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