E.A. Sports Today

Anniston opens strong

Kite, Bulldogs look good in first game as reigning state champions, play host Spain Park in Round 2 of Jag Classic

Mark Toyer says defense will get Anniston back to the state tournament and the Bulldogs have a lot of it. On the cover, Antonio Kite opened his senior season with a long 3-pointer on the way with a 27-point game in the Jag Classic Monday.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

HOOVER – Nobody wins a state championship without being a good team and Anniston had a really good basketball team in winning the Class 4A state championship last year. But if you can believe it, the Bulldogs might be even better this year.

Decorum prevents coach Torry Brown from actually saying that, of course. “Unique” is the word he’d prefer to use.

These Bulldogs have more depth, especially in the front court, and more defense. Both were on display Monday as they started on the road to a repeat with a 74-46 victory over Bay High of Panama City, Fla., in the first round of Spain Park’s Jag Classic.

They’ll play the host team Tuesday at 6 p.m. Spain Park beat Chelsea 65-47.

“I think it’s a different team,” Brown said. “This team right here has got multiple guys who can do some things. I’ve got two 4s (Troy Hall and Talib Christian) and two 5s (Kamron Sandlin and Javen Croft), so the interchange between the guys is really good and there’s not a whole lot of difference between the one who starts and the one who comes off the bench.

“This team right here … potentially we can be better – if we can stay healthy and just keep getting a little bit better every day. If we can do some things, shoot the ball a little bit, this team has potential to be a really good team. I think we’re better this year at this same point than what we were last year at this point.”

Last year, they opened the season with a 61-59 win over Hoover behind 38 points from then-senior and eventual Final Four MVP Malcolm Carlisle.

It may be a different year, but some things remain the same. Antonio Kite opened his senior season with 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists in three quarters of work.

He started the campaign with the first of his five 3-pointers from deep outside Bay’s 2-3 zone on the opening possession of the game.

“I called that one,” he said. “I said I’m going to shoot a 3 first thing.”

“Another difference is Antonio,” Brown said. “This is the best he’s ever played. He made three or four plays out there tonight that were just unbelievable. I looked at the coaches and said, ‘Did you just see that move?’ He’s gotten a lot stronger, got a better feel for what we want to do. He’s a load, he really is.”

Brown might not say this team is better, but the players are shy about it. All 11 available players got in the game and nine scored.

Toyer had 10 points, three rebounds and five assists, although he may have tweaked a knee in the game. C.J. Munford had 12 points, while Hall had four points and eight rebounds.

“We are a lot quicker and lot more guard-heavy; that’s always a good thing,” Kite said. “And we’ve got bigs who can really help us get rebounds and they can run the floor.”

“We’ve got a lot of defense on the floor, got a lot of people who want to play defense,” added Toyer. “Defense is going to get us back to state.”

Anniston 74, Bay (Fla.) 46
ANNISTON (1-0) –
Mark Toyer 4 0-2 10, Antonio Kite 8 6-6 27, Jamarius Billingsley 2 0-2 4, Martez Reed 1 0-0 3, Jacques Thomas 0 0-0 0, Troy Hall 2 0-0 4, C.J. Munford 5 0-0 12, Javen Croft 1 2-4 4, Malik Bailey 0 0-0 0, Kamron Sandlin 1 0-0 2, Talib Christian 4 0-0 8. Totals 28 8-14 74.
BAY (0-1) –Jeremiah Wells 1 1-2 3, Deondrian Washington 3 1-3 9, Timmy Brown 2 3-4 7, Keigi Lilly 2 0-0 4, Jeremiah Banks 0 0-0 0, Jaques Lee 2 0-0 5, Lakleyan Suddeth 0 0-0 0, Tyberias McCree 6 0-0 12, Tramello Carter 2 0-0 4, Demarion Stewart 1 0-0 2, Christian Colvins 0 0-0 0, Jahlil Love 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 5-9 46.
Anniston        18  21  20  15  –  74
Bay                    9  15  12  10  –  46
3-point goals: Anniston 10 (Toyer 2, Kite 5, Reed, Munford 2); Bay (Washington 2, Lee). Technical fouls: Wells. Total fouls: Anniston 16, Bay 15. Officials: Shirey, Hodge, Reece.

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