E.A. Sports Today

County preview?

In the latest marquee matchup of Calhoun County powers, Anniston boys top Alexandria after big start to third quarter. Anniston’s undefeated girls dominate second half.

Cover photo: Anniston’s Delroy Francis goes up for a layup at Alexandria on Tuesday. Anniston won, 44-39. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Tuesday scoreboard

Anniston 44, Alexandria 39
Jacksonville 48, Cleburne County 33
Glencoe 61, Lincoln 35
B.B. Comer 73, Ragland 30
Ashville 70, Wellborn 43
Etowah 66, Cherokee County 46
Anniston 48, Alexandria 23
Jacksonville 71, Cleburne County 47
Saks 61, Pleasant Valley 59
Spring Garden 66, Sand Rock 38
Cherokee County 54, Etowah 22
Glencoe 50, Lincoln 40

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

ALEXANDRIA — Who’s enjoying the unofficial, mini-Calhoun County basketball tournament?

Could it preview the real thing, come January?

Jacorrie Lane scored a team-high 11 points, and Anniston’s boys opened the third quarter with a 12-0 en route to a 44-39 victory at Alexandria on Tuesday.

It came one night after Jacksonville beat Alexandria 65-55 at home and five nights after the Golden Eagles beat White Plains 50-38 at home.

Anniston plays at Jacksonville on Thursday.

All of those teams were either ranked or received votes in the season’s first Alabama Sports Writers Association poll, released a week ago.

The actual county tournament runs Jan. 12-20, and coaches will vote on seedings Jan. 3.

The NBA has an in-season tournament, complete with a mini-banner. Why not think of the recent stretch of games between top county teams as a preview?

Anniston (8-3), who beat Piedmont on Friday, eyes its first shot at Jacksonville, a pairing that of teams that have won a combined three Class 4A state titles in the past three seasons.

“We’ll see Thursday,” Anniston coach Torry Brown said. “It’s a game for us, considering they’re playing real, real good basketball. They have a really good basketball player (Devin Barksdale), and we’re going there to play them.”

Alexandria’s Jaylen Henderson gets a fast-break bucket for two of his nine points against Anniston on Tuesday at Alexandria. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Led by Quendavion McDowell’s 12 points, Alexandria (7-4) gave Anniston a four-quarter battle. The key stretch saw Anniston, which has given up no more than 48 points all season, that coming in a 48-46 loss to White Plains, turn a 25-17 halftime deficit into a 29-25 lead.

“In the second half, I thought we were great defensively,” Brown said. “They got a bucket at the end of the third quarter then got a deflection and steal and runout to get that shot at the buzzer. If you take away those four points, we held them to 10 points in a half.”

Anniston lead 31-29 at quarter’s end and led by as many as seven points down the stretch.

“We had turnovers in the third quarter, and we only got off seven shots,” Alexandria coach Will Ginn said. “A lot of that is due to them.

“For whatever reason, I felt like we came out and weren’t aggressive. We didn’t shoot a free throw the whole second half, and they shot 12 (10). I don’t think we were being aggressive.”

Anniston coach Eddie Bullock talks to his team during a timeout on Tuesday at Alexandria. The Bulldogs improved to 14-0. (Photo by Joe Medley)


ANNISTON 48, ALEXANDRIA 23: Up 19-17 at halftime, Anniston scored the first 29 points of the second half, holding the Valley Cubs scoreless until Landry Patterson’s free throws at 3:43 of the fourth quarter.

Allyssa Hunt got Alexandria’s two second-half field goals starting at 1:48. 

Anniston improved to 14-0, and veteran head coach Eddie Bullock said the difference between halves was attitude.

“We had to pick it up,” he said. “We were playing too stagnated. It ain’t conditioning, because we run. It’s just mentality.
“People think this is easy. I’ve been doing this a long time, and this is one of toughest groups I’ve ever had to coach, and we’re 14-0. I’ll take two Tylenol tonight.”

Serena Hardy hit three 3-pointers and led Anniston with 17 points. Tykeria Smith added 14 and A’Kayla Perry 11 with a 3-pointer.

Alexandria (5-6) got 12 points from Hunt.

The Valley Cubs’ highlight was the first half. Their sagging man-to-man defense had it hard for Anniston to drive and get rebounds.

“It was really good, same as last night (at Jacksonville),” Alexandria coach Craig Kiker said. “I feel like we played really good defense. I even feel like we played really good defense in the second half, but you can only overcome so much. We didn’t block out well in the second half, and we turned the ball over too much.”

Alexandria’s Charlee Parris tries a fallaway shot against Anniston on Tuesday at Alexandria. (Photo by Joe Medley)

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