E.A. Sports Today

Top ‘Dawgs

With first-year Piedmont coaches working to replace key players, Anniston’s boys, girls bring pressure, roll in battle of Bulldogs.

Cover photo: Anniston’s Delroy Francis goes up for two of his 19 points against Piedmont on Tuesday at Piedmont. (Photo by Joe Medley)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT — Anniston’s boys came into their fourth game of the season looking to rebound from their first loss.

Piedmont came in on one game and four practices under first-year head coach Matt Glover, looking to find itself in life without Alex Odam and injured top returning scorer Rollie Pinto.

Delroy Francis scored a game-high 19 points, and Anniston showed itself as the more advanced team in the moment, 63-36, to complete a sweep of the boy-girl doubleheader at Piedmont. Anniston’s girls won, 53-37.

Anniston’s boys answered the bell after falling 41-30 on Monday at Fort Payne.

“I thought last night was a really physical game because Fort Payne is a really big team,” Anniston coach Torry Brown said. “I was pleased to see that we could come out tonight and have the same energy that we did, and we came out and had a heck of a start.”

The Bulldogs led 16-11 after the first quarter and 32-22 at halftime then held Piedmont to 14 points in the second half, five in the third quarter.

Jayden Lewis added 12 points, and Isaiah Allen had nine.

“Right now, the way we’re looking, we’ve got a pretty good squad,” Francis said. 

Piedmont lost Odam, the 2022-23 Class 3A player of the year and a Jacksonville State signee,to graduation. Pinto suffered a season-ending knee injury during football season. He’s out of his brace,but his recovery road will carry on past basketball season.

Together, Odam and Pinto averaged a combined 40 points a game last season. 

Glover took over for Jonathan Odam, Alex’s dad, who stepped back from coaching to follow his son’s college career. Piedmont began the Glover era era with a victory over Cedar Bluff on Monday.

Ish Bethel led the Bulldogs with 12 points and Colton Procter added eight against Anniston. They rallied to within seven points after Anniston’s big start but struggled with the Bulldogs’ pressure.

For the Bulldogs, finding their way means starts with finding their guys. 

“Alex and Rollie touched the ball 90 percent of the time last year, so we’ve got to find out who we are,” Glover said. “That’s going to be a learning process, and it’s tough, because we’re going through it in games instead of practice. We’re learning it as we go.

“We’re going to lose some games early, but that’s OK. We’ve got to learn from it, learning from our mistakes and what we did wrong, and we’ve got to be able to fix it.”

Anniston’s Tykeria Smith blocks a shot during the Bulldogs’ victory at Piedmont on Tuesday. (Photo by Joe Medley)


ANNISTON 53, PIEDMONT 37: Tykeria Smith poured in 24 points, Serena Hardy added nine and the Bulldogs got out to a 23-8 lead at first quarter’s end and 34-10 lead at halftime with stifling ball pressure.

The Bulldogs are off to an 8-0 start in Hardy’s return after a knee injury sidelined her four games into last season.

“I don’t think nobody thought we’d be 8-0, but we got Serena back after an ACL tear,” Anniston coach Eddie Bullock said. “Last year, those girls were able to develop without her, but she’s tough to beat.”
Ava Pope hit one 3-pointer and led Piedmont with 11 points, but early foul troubles limited her tie on the court. Josie Young added seven.

Piedmont dropped to 2-2 under first-year head coach Shane Morrow, the former Jacksonville boys’ head coach who took over Piedmont’s girls program when Terrace Ridley stepped down. Like Glover and the boys, Morrow’s girls team is moving on without graduated standout LeLe Ridley.

“Pressure can bust pipes and make diamonds, and we kind of folded to it tonight,” Morrow said. “Give them a lot of credit.

“We did some good things. We showed flashes, but overall, they were the better team tonight.”

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