E.A. Sports Today

Glad to be back

Anniston girls return to regionals, play tight game but look like they’ve never missed
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today 

JACKSONVILLE – The Anniston girls made it a little closer than coach Eddie Bullock wanted, but in the end the Lady Bulldogs, appreciative of being here, beat Oneonta 53-45 to reach the finals of the Class 4A girls Northeast Regionals.

They will play Fairview (19-10) for a trip to the Final Four in Birmingham. Fairview edged Cherokee County 51-45.

“I’m just glad to be sitting in this seat again,” Bullock said, considering the Lady Bulldogs were denied a spot in the regional last year. “It’s been a long time. Last year was my first time not making it up here. I’m just glad to be back.”

The line in Anniston’s section of the tournament program that says “None” next to “Past state championships” is a glaring omission for Bullock and the Lady Dawgs. They’ve had teams capable in the past but always felt heartbreak along the way.

Last year the hammer fell before they even got here. They played badly and lost in their area tournament championship game and then went on the road and lost to Madison Academy where Bullock figured all along they would meet for the region championship.

“We’ve been a good team in the past, but when you’re a championship team you know how to win close games,” Bullock said. “Like this one for instance. We won it, but we made it closer than what it should have been. That’s what I’m trying to put in their heads; they’ve got to learn to close out.”

Bullock says the Lady Dawgs (27-4) have “everything we need” to finally win that elusive state title this year, but they have to play solid. They got two of the three pieces in Bullock’s formula Tuesday – good defense and strong inside play – but lacked in an area they need at this stage in the game, good free throw shooting.

Anniston was just 9-for-25 from the line in the game. The players who joined Bullock in the interview room all made sour faces when he mentioned that stat.
“We were awful shooting free throws,” Bullock said. “We are a good free-throw shooting team. I think we’ve only had about four bad games where we just really shot terrible. But this is a bad time to shoot terrible.”
There was no disputing their inside presence, though. The Lady Dawgs outrebounded the Tribe by 15 overall and hauled in 25 offensive rebounds. Four Anniston players had at least six rebounds. Asia Barclay had nine, Tekyia Jackson seven and Jordyn Johnson and Toniah Foster six each.
They may not have converted around the basket all the time – they had three possessions of four or more shots and came away with a total of two points – but Bullock expects it to be there.

That’s what he meant about playing solid. 

Oneonta, meanwhile, knew Anniston’s inside presence would pose a problem. 

“I wanted to sprinkle a little water on the girls early in the week to see if they’d grow,” coach David Elrod said. “I told them before the game every Goliath has their David, you’ve just got to pick the right stone. I picked the right stone, we just didn’t land the shot we needed.”

Allasha Dudley led Anniston with 19 points. She had 10 in the third quarter when the Lady Dawgs pulled away from a 26-21 halftime lead.

“I just wanted to win,” Dudley said. “I think we were up by five coming out so we wanted to get a lead so we could make them a little nervous.” 

 Anniston 53, Oneonta 45
ONEONTA (25-7) –
Britney Chavez 6-13 2-2 19, Savana Robertson 4-11 7-8 16, Baylor Phillips 1-2 2-2 5, Teagan Hartman 1-4 3-4 5, Britton Pass 0-1 0-0 0, Virginia Ritchie 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Brooke Burke 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 12-32 14-16 45.
ANNISTON (27-4) – Allasha Dudley 7-21 2-4 19, Anna Garrett 1-2 2-2 4, Jordyn Johnson 1-5 0-6 2, Kiana Montgomery 0-1 0-2 0, Toniah Foster 3-6 0-1 6, Measia Kelley 1-3 0-0 2, Airriana Colley 2-7 0-0 0, Tekyia Jackson 3-7 3-6 7, Asia Barclay 2-5 2-4 6. Totals 20-57 9-25 53.
Oneonta         12       9          13       11       –          45
Anniston        15       11       18       9          –          53
3-point goals: Oneonta 7-17 (Chavez 5-10, Robertson 1-3, Phillips 1-2, Hartman 0-1, Burke 0-1); Anniston 4-18 (Dudley 3-7, Garrett 0-1, Johnson 0-2, Kelley 0-2, Colley 1-6). Rebounds: Oneonta 26 (Robertson 9); Anniston 41 (Barclay 9, Jackson 7). Total fouls: Oneonta 19, Anniston 14. Officials: Terry Anthony, Abdullah Salaam, David Gregg.

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