E.A. Sports Today

Tall task

Piedmont runs into ‘really quality’ undefeated Springville team, falls in Gaston Classic opener

Regular season
Jacksonville Christian 77, Coosa Christian 46

Cherokee County Christmas Invitational
At Gaylesville H.S.
Spring Garden 53, Chattooga 44
Collinsville 50, Gaylesville 34
Sand Rock 76, Cherokee County 49

Gaston Christmas Classic
Springville 62, Piedmont 55
Scottsboro 73, Moody 62
Boaz 72, Southeastern 53
Ashville 62, Gaston 51

Ragland Christmas Classic
Victory at Ragland
Ranburne vs. Cleveland

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

GASTON – Alex Odam confidently stepped to the free throw line to hit two technical foul shots before the game even started to score the 1,400thpoint of his career. Then he easily drained a 3-pointer on the game’s opening possession and after Sean Smith followed with a 3 just that quickly Piedmont had an 8-2 lead in the Gaston Christmas Classic.

Not much went right for the Bulldogs after that.

Springville scored the next 15 points on a combination of Ben Bianchi low and a couple 3-pointers high that had Piedmont playing catch up the rest of the day in an eventual 62-55 loss that kept the Tigers undefeated (12-0).

(All-time scoring list)
Danny Bryan1686
Randall Ridley1570
Alex Odam1418
Marquise Diamond1409

“That’s a really quality basketball team; they’re really good,” Piedmont coach JoJo Odam said. “They shot it so well. We were talking about it at halftime, they might have shot 75 percent or better. They just didn’t miss shots early and they’re so good inside.”

Strangely, the Bulldogs have found it tough sledding during the Christmas break and Monday it was more of the same.

They did chip away at the lead in the second half, but could never get over the hump. They got within six in the closing seconds of the third quarter and looked like they were going to get some momentum, then Springville’s Luke Richardson floated one of his four 3-pointers at the buzzer to flatten the threat. 

The Bulldogs got within five in the final minute of the game after a pair of 3-pointers by Luke Bussey. They had two chances to get closer after Springville the missed the front end of one-and-one, but missed from behind the arc both times. Bianchi eventually hit a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left to produce the final margin.

“We just couldn’t get a feel for the game early,” Odam said. “We made some adjustments there in the second half and we got a lot better effort the second half. We just have to get that same effort early.”

The highlight of the game was Piedmont was Alex Odam moving into third place on the Bulldogs’ all-time scoring list.

His game-high 20 points pushed him to 1,418 for his career. He passed Marquise Diamond for No. 3 and trails only Randall Ridley (1,570), the brother-in-law of Piedmont girls coach Terrace Ridley, and all-time leading scorer Danny Bryan (1,686) on the all-time list.

The scoring list doesn’t even register on Odam’s radar.

“It really doesn’t,” he said. “We just have to focus on getting some wins during the Christmas break right now.”

The Bulldogs (3-3) will play Moody in Tuesday’s 11:15 a.m. loser’s bracket game. They are scheduled to meet Springville again on the final day of the Springville Invitational Dec. 30.

Gaston Christmas Classic
Springville 62, Piedmont 55
PIEDMONT (3-3) –
Alex Odam 6 6-6 20, Omarion Foster 4 1-1 9, Luke Bussey 7 1-3 18, Jadon Calhoun 0 0-0 0, Jack Hayes 0 0-0 0, Coleman 1 0-0 2, Cassius Fairs 0 0-0 0, Jakari Foster 1 0-0 3, Sean Smith 1 0-0 3. Totals 20 8-10 55. 
SPRINGVILLE (12-0) – Jamel Williams 1 0-0 2, Garrett Howard 1 3-4 5, Luke Richardson 4 0-0 12, Cason Kersh 2 0-0 5, Larry Winston 0 4-4 4, Pearson Baldwin 2 0-0 4, Vincent Gooch 1 0-3 2, Chase Higgins 1 0-0 2, Jake Goolsby 4 0-1 9, Ben Bianchi 7 3-4 17. Totals 23 10-16 62.
Piedmont         10  11  17  17   –  55
Springville      20  16  11  15   –  62
3-point goals: Piedmont 7 (Odam 2, Bussey 3, J. Foster, Smith); Springville 6 (Richardson 4, Kersh, Goolsby). Technical fouls: Springville (admin). Total fouls: Piedmont 19, Springville 8. Officials: Askew, Roberts, McKinney.

Regular season
JCA 77, Coosa Christian 46

GADSDEN – Tanner Wilson and Landon Willis scored 18 points apiece as the Thunder won total a 9-1 record into Christmas. Tavian Alexander added 14 points and eight rebounds, and Ethan Burrage had nine points, eight rebounds and four assists.

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