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Anniston girls going back to Final Four, but have work to do to be a championship team

Anniston’s Allasha Dudley was the 4A Girls Northeast Regional MVP.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Eddie Bullock might not have shown it in the post-game interviews but he was mad when he should have been over the moon and he had every right to be.

His Anniston girls basketball secured a trip to the Class 4A Final Four with a 50-27 win over Fairview at Thursday, but just based on their overall Northeast Regional play there’s a lot the Lady Dawgs (28-4) have to clean up before getting taking the floor at the BJCC.

The Lady Dawgs will play Greensboro (24-2) in the Class 4A semifinals 6 p.m. Tuesday at the BJCC.

The title game wasn’t nearly as close as the Lady Dawgs made it in the semifinals, but there were enough shortcomings to leave Bullock concerned.

They let Fairview’s press and trap get to them in the third quarter. They missed way too many inside shots for a team that dominates the inside and too many unforced turnovers. And they’re still missing more free throws than acceptable any time but moreso in the postseason.

“We’ve got a lot of things to clean up if we plan on being a state championship team,” Bullock said. “This team can win if somebody’s not playing well, but it’s going to hard to win if all of them are not in the game.”

Fortunately for the Lady Dawgs their typically tight defense helped them build a big enough lead that all that other didn’t really matter in the outcome of the game.

They held Fairview to three baskets in the first half and put together two defensively fueled runs (12-0 and 17-0) each after the Lady Aggies hit a 3-pointer to open a 31-8 halftime lead. They had 19 points off turnovers in the half.
“I think experience more or less took over, our defensive pressure kind of took over today,” Bullock said.

Bullock knew the Lady Aggies (19-11) could be dangerous and were in the second half. Fairview’s press and trap disrupted the Lady Dawgs to the point they made only two total field goals in the final two quarters.

They did get the free throw line, but were only 15-of-30 in the half and just 18-of-36 for the game, despite shooting them for about 45 minutes prior to the game. They were only 9-of-25 in their semifinals win over Oneonta.
“I guess it’s something we have to shoot ourselves out of in the game,” Bullock said. “We have to get better at doing it, but I’m just glad to be back in Birmingham and just pray we can keep the defense going like it’s going.”

There are some elements of this year’s team the Lady Dawgs have over some of the others Bullock has taken to the state finals, particularly its ballhandling savvy and balance.

He wishes he could inject the tenacity of his beastly 2009 team that was so confident it secretly bought “Calhoun County Tournament Champions” T-shirts even before it played in the final.

Now that’s swagger.
“I think once they develop that, and we have one more week to do it, I think we’re on the road,” Bullock said. “And I think it’s possible for us to do it, but we’ve got to get it quick.”
Anniston sophomore Allasha Dudley was tournament MVP. She was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate Kiana Montgomery. 

Dudley had 12 points, four steals and three assists in the title game. Montgomery had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Anniston 50, Fairview 27
FAIRVIEW (19-11) –
Payton Golden 2-10 2-2 7, Maddie Yeager 1-8 0-0 2, Daisy Manasco 1-4 0-0 2, Katie Ball 0-2 0-0 0, Molly McKelvy 5-9 0-0 14, Jacy Gorham 0-2 0-1 0, Morgan Lindsay 0-3 0-0 0, Isabella McGukin 1-3 0-2 2, Deavan Fulmer 0-0 0-0 0, Emma Garcia 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 10-42 2-6 27.
ANNISTON (28-4) – Allasha Dudley 3-11 4-4 12, Anna Garrett 0-0 1-2 1, Jordyn Johnson 1-2 0-2 2, Kiana Montgomery 4-9 6-10 14, Toniah Foster 2-10 3-7 7, Measia Kelley 0-0 0-0 0, Airriana Colley 0-1 0-0 0, Tekyia Jackson 2-4 4-9 8, Asia Barclay 3-5 0-1 5. Totals 15-42 18-36 50.
Fairview             5          3          12         7          –          27
Anniston            12        19        4          15         –          50
3-point goals: Fairview 5-17 (Golden 1-4, Yeager 0-1, Manasco 0-1, Ball 0-1, McKelvy 4-7, Lindsay 0-3); Anniston 2-9 (Dudley 2-7, Johnson 0-1, Colley 0-1). Rebounds: Fairview 30 (Manasco 8, Ball 6); Anniston 39 (Montgomery 11). Fouled out: Ball. Total fouls: Fairview 22, Anniston 14.

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