E.A. Sports Today

Bulldogs fight way into finals

Anniston will play for a boys state championship for first time since 2011, seeking its first title since 2009

Anniston’s Malcolm Carlisle (4) is pulled away by teammates as Anniston and Vigor players are separated to prevent fights after a hard foul on Carlisle at the end of their AHSAA Class 4A semifinal game Friday. (Photos by Mark Almond/preps@al.com)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

BIRMINGHAM – There are some games a team just has to get through if it wants to reach the top of the mountain.

You don’t expect it to be in a state semifinal where the stakes are high and teams are close to the top of their games.

But that was the situation the Anniston Bulldogs found themselves in Friday. They were able to withstand it to reach the Class 4A state championship game that has been on their radar from the day Malcolm Carlisle transferred into the program in the summer.

The Bulldogs plodded through a 53-40 victory over a Vigor team with a losing record that won just the right games and will be playing in the championship game for the first time since 2011. They will be looking for their first state title since 2009 against Booker T. Washington at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in the Bill Harris Arena.

“We’ve dreamed of getting to the state championship game,” Anniston junior guard Antonio Kite said. “Now we earned our spot, so we’re really excited.”

It wasn’t pretty by any means, but once the Bulldogs (26-6) got the lead they never gave it up. The Wolves (12-15) scored only 14 points in the first half and the Bulldogs managed only four in the third quarter, hitting just 2 of 11 shots. It was that kind of game.

“I thought we were just as good this game the first half as we were the White Plains first half (in the Northeast Regional final) and we were just as bad the third quarter as we were against White Plains,” Anniston coach Torry Brown said. “We just did enough to hold on. I think that’s sort of what we did against White Plains and the same thing happened tonight.”

Just when you thought it couldn’t get uglier, it ended in an ugly incident with both teams being sent off the floor and the game declared over with 32.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

It started as the Bulldogs were trying to run out the clock and expecting to be fouled to prevent it. Carlisle was the victim of a hard foul, plowed into by Vigor’s Devin Caldwell looking like a linebacker standing up a running back on the goal line right on the Bill Harris Arena logo in front of Anniston’s bench.

Carlisle went sprawling backwards to the floor. He got up angry and looking to retaliate. Assistant coaches Marrio Dobbins and Robert Roberson along with several teammates pulled the senior guard away from the fray, but chaos ensued.

City police came on the floor to help restore order, both teams were sent to their respective locker rooms (Anniston left first) and the game was declared over at that point. And then local television captured police breaking up incidents with fans in the stands. There were no arrests.

“He just came across and shoved him and pushed him down,” Brown said. “That wasn’t the first time. I think what happened the first time, they shoved Malcolm in the back … and the ref said that was a common foul, and I thought that was clearly not a common foul.

“Given that without having any repercussions other than a common foul I think it opened up the gates for what happened later in the game … The deal is not to react but when you’re the one that’s something being done to it’s hard not to react and he reacted like any teenage kid and probably any adult would.”

It was a physical game. There were two double technical fouls, an intentional foul and 42 personal fouls in the game.

Brown believed the chippiness stemmed from hype posts the Wolves posted on social media regarding Anniston’s road to the Final Four.

“They were playing tougher than us, trying to knock us down, trying to get us out of our game and stuff, so I think that bothered our rhythm a little bit,” Kite said.

As much as he would have liked to have seen the game reach its normal conclusion, Brown said sending the teams off before the final horn was “the best decision considering the things that have happened in the Final Four in the past few years at the BJCC. Considering those, I think that was the only option.”

Carlisle led Anniston with 18 points, six rebounds and four steals. Kite scored 17 points and was 7-of-10 from the free throw line.

Boys Semifinals
Anniston 53, Vigor 40
VIGOR (12-15) –
Kristopher Agee 5-8 4-6 16, Abraham Daniels 1-3 3-4 5, Jermaine Coleman 0-11 1-2 1, Jermaine Holcombe 0-1 0-0 0, Devante Harris 3-15 1-4 9, Larry Ruffin 1-3 0-1 2, Caleb Coleman 0-1 0-0 0, Benjamin Bennett 1-1 2-2 5, Devin Caldwell 1-1 0-0 2, Bandon Purifoy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-44 11-19 40.
ANNISTON (26-6) – Mark Toyer 1-5 0-0 2, Antonio Kite 4-11 8-10 17, Malcolm Carlisle 8-16 0-6 18, Miciah Myles 2-4 3-4 7, Kamron Sandlin 0-2 0-0 0, Troy Hall 1-2 1-2 3, Tadyn Jones 0-1 4-4 4, Taishun Hall 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 17-45 16-26 53.
Vigor                          8     6   10   16  –  40
Anniston                 13   16     4   20  –  53
3-point goals: Vigor 5-12 (Agee 2-2, J. Coleman 0-3, Harris 2-5, Ruffin 0-1, Bennett 1-1); Anniston 3-13 (Toer 0-1, Kite 1-6, Carlisle 2-6). Rebounds: Vigor 38 (J. Coleman 8); Anniston 29 (Myles 7). Technical fouls: Harris, Ruffin, Toyer, Ta. Hall. Fouled out: Agee, Harris, Toyer. Total fouls: Vigor 26, Anniston 16.

Booker T. Washington 69, Brooks 61 (OT)
Cameron Whitfield 5-6 1-2 11, Jeffrey Lewis 3-5 0-0 7, Anthony Tarver 3-4 2-5 8, Jalien Fluellen 5-10 3-5 14, Andrew Johnson 5-6 7-10 17, Joseph Phillips 5-7 0-0 10, Marquis Robinson 1-3 0-0 2, Deinkepiribo Harry 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-41 13-22 69.
BROOKS (20-9) – Knute Wood 6-11 0-0 13, Kyler Murks 9-23 4-6 26, Connor Lewis 1-1 0-0 2, Camryn Williams 4-10 1-1 11, Cameron Doerflinger 1-4 0-0 3, Zach Ashley 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson Condon 2-7 0-0 6, Zechariah Huskey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-56 5-7 61.
BTW        16  14    9  17  13  –  69
Brooks    16  16  10  14    5  –  61
3-point goals: BTW 2-7 (Lewis 1-2, Fluellen 1-3, Johnson 0-1, Robinson 0-1); Brooks 10-27 (Wood 1-1, Murks 4-11, Williams 2-7, Doerflinger 1-3, Condon 2-5). Rebounds: BTW (34 (Phillips 10); Brooks 20 (Williams 5). Fouled out: Lewis, Wood, Williams. Total fouls: BTW 16, Brooks 20.

Anniston’s Antonio Kite (1) works against the defense of Vigor’s Kristopher Agee during their Class 4A semifinal game at the Bill Harris Arena.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login