E.A. Sports Today

The band is back

Weaver gets another player on the mend back, expects to have everyone available when it plays Pleasant Valley for the area title

Abby Gaines (R) returned to the Weaver lineup Wednesday after missing the last four games with an ankle injury, just in time for post-season play. On the cover, Caleigh Cortez just recently returned to the Lady Bearcats after the flu. (Photos by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
WEAVER – Gary Atchley is excited getting to the Class 3A Area 11 tournament title game for a number of reasons.
First of all, his Weaver girls basketball team will be playing for an area championship; the Lady Bearcats already have a third straight trip to the state tournament. They’re also on track for a 20-win season.

Weaver’s Haley Homesley (41) battles for position against Saks eighth-grader Amiyah Buchanan. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

But perhaps the biggest reason Atchley was so excited after his team toppled Saks 60-28 Wednesday night is he’s about to have all his players available for the first time in he can’t remember how long.
Abby Gaines was the latest of the missing Lady Bearcats to return to action and she celebrated by scoring eight points against the Lady Wildcats. Leading scorer Caleigh Cortez recently returned after a bout with the flu and had 10 points.

The third piece of the puzzle, outside threat Maleah Foster, is expected to return for Friday night’s championship game against Pleasant Valley after mending a hamstring injury.
“We’re finally going to get the band back together,” Atchley said. “I’m excited. The girls are excited. Abby is excited. Practice yesterday went great. We finally had all the girls there. It’s a big difference.”
Gaines sustained a high right ankle sprain in the Lady Bearcats’ Calhoun County Tournament quarterfinals win over White Plains and missed the next four games (Weaver lost three of them). She scored eight points in her return.
“It felt really good; we felt like a team again,” Gaines said. “I was really excited because I wasn’t sure if I could be able to handle it, but I did pretty good.”
Atchley said having Gaines back made an “unbelievable” difference to the Lady Bearcats’ fortunes. Not only does she give them size, she can knock down the 3-pointer. She had one in the fourth quarter Wednesday night.
“I didn’t realize this until I was watching film the other night, she’s kind of the glue that keeps this whole thing going,” Atchley said. “Cortez is definitely the engine, but Abby’s the glue that holds this thing together because she does so much. She makes us way more versatile offensively.”
The Lady Bearcats had plenty of offense against Saks. They led 22-4 at one point in the first quarter and 42-10 at halftime. Haley Homesley and Trinity Pulliam had 15 points apiece.
Now it’s on to PV for the area title. The Lady Bearcats won both regular season meetings by 31 and 4, and most people are expecting a game closer to the latter than the former. PV had a much harder time getting to the championship game, getting taken to the wire by Piedmont in the night’s second semifinal, but Atchley is comfortable with the idea their lopsided victory has them ready.
“This game means a lot to me because four years ago I was sitting over there and these teams were beating the mess out of me like that,” he said. “These girls know that and that gives us a lot of motivation.
“Our past at Weaver has been big motivator for the last two seasons. This is the third straight year we’ve made it to the state tournament, and that is big. That is big for us because all y’all in this whole area know what happened when I took over this Weaver basketball program. We were piecing this thing together. These girls deserve this.”
Weaver 60, Saks 25
Amya Carlise 0 0-0 0, Keilynn Williams 1 0-0 2, DeArian Stewart 3 0-0 8, Takeirra Hudson 0 0-0 0, Deja Almon 1 1-1 3, Halimah Binyamin 1 0-0 2, Teana Edwards 0 0-1 0, Alicia Gooden 0 0-0 0, Amiyah Buchanan 4 1-2 9, Kayleigh Thomas 0 0-0 0, Destini Elston 0 1-2 1. Totals 10 3-6 25.
WEAVER – Maddie Atchley 1 0-0 2, Caleigh Cortez 5 0-2 10, Kiese Hubbard 0 0-0 0, Lorilei Brown 0 0-0 0, Trinity Pulliam 7 1-2 15, Dijinea Anderson 0 0-0 0, Abby Gaines 3 1-2 8, Amira Carter 2 1-4 5, TiAna Lawrence 2 1-2 5, Haley Homesley 7 0-0 15. Totals 27 4-12 60.
Saks         6               4               9               6               –                25
Weaver   22             20             7               11             –                60
3-point goals: Saks 2 (Stewart 2); Weaver 2 (Gaines, Homesley). Total fouls: Saks 11, Weaver 14.

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