E.A. Sports Today

Dancing queens

Anniston girls break into dance after avenging loss, earning right to play host to area tournament. Anniston’s boys roll past short-handed Handley.

Anniston’s girls dance after beating Handley on Friday to clinch the right to play host to the Class 4A, Area 8 tournament. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Friday scoreboard

Anniston 57, Handley 28
Saks 56, Weaver 51
Jacksonville 71, Cherokee County 37
Faith Christian 42, Donoho 34
Winterboro 54, Wadley 42
White Plains 53, Piedmont 35
Valley Head 75, Jacksonville Christian 67
Southside 63, Lincoln 41
B.B. Comer 65, Isabella 21
Anniston 56, Handley 42
Gadsden City 36, Oxford 31
Piedmont 65, White Plains 30
Wellborn 37, Woodland 36
Weaver 53, Saks 39
Southside 75, Lincoln 21
Cherokee County 54, Jacksonville 49
Winterboro 52, Wadley 9

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

ANNISTON — Sometimes, one must dance.

For Anniston’s girls, that moment came right after they beat visiting Handley 56-42 on Friday to clinch the right to host the Class 4A, Area 8 tournament.

Members of Anniston’s marching band filled the school’s echo-chamber gym with thunderous percussion, and the Bulldogs emerged from the handshake line feeling the need to groove.

Groove, they did.

“We knew we had to beat Handley to host the area tournament,” Anniston center Tykeria Smith said. “So, we just felt really good.”

Members of Anniston’s marching band fill the gym with sound during Friday’s boy-girl doubleheader with Handley. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Smith’s 19 points led the way, and seventh-ranked Anniston (23-4) avenged its lone loss to a team classified under 6A this season. Sixth-ranked Handley (20-7) beat the Bulldogs 43-33 on Jan. 9 at Handley.

Having also lost to Talladega once this season, the Tigers had to beat Anniston to force a season sweep and prevail in a tiebreaker.

The right to host that area tournament felt like a given for Anniston most years, but guard Serena Hardy suffered a season-ending knee injury four games into last season. Handley won the right to host the area tournament, and Anniston was eliminated in the area tournament for the first time in Eddie Bullock’s 19-year tenure as head coach.

Fast forward a year, and Anniston’s girls found their way back to their customary place.

“It’s great, man,” Bullock said. “It’s good to be back on track.”

What did the Bulldogs figure out after their loss at Handley earlier this season?

“We had to play better inside,” Bullock said. “We had to box out, and we had to limit their shots.

“We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds the last game to No. 22 (Zanautika Smith), and it really hurt us. We still gave up a few, but for the most part, we did what we had to do most of the game.”

Anniston also got 11 points from Layla Tyus and nine from Hardy.

Takeriauna Mosley led Handley with 19 points. Kristiana Tucker added 10.

Anniston’s Tykeria Smith wins an offensive rebound against Anniston on Friday. (Photo by Joe Medley)

“Well, 33 (Tykeria Smith) killed us tonight,” Handley coach Courtney Screws said. “It’s funny, because she sticks out in my mind when we played here last year, as well, when they beat us here.

“She’s a great offensive rebounder. She just absolutely killed us on the boards. If she had a shot outside the paint, I don’t know. She scored so many in the paint, and that killed us.”

Anniston’s Isaiah Allen drives the baseline for a dunk against Handley on Friday. (Photo by Joe Medley)


ANNISTON 57, HANDLEY 28: Isaiah Allen score 19 points, Jacorey Lane 11 and Delroy Francis 10 as fourth-ranked Anniston improved to 15-7.

The Bulldogs, who lost at Handley 43-41 on Jan. 9, led 24-16 at halftime on Friday and broke the game open in the third quarter.

“We were spotty in the first half,” Anniston coach Torry Brown said. “It took us awhile to get going, but I we opened it up in the third quarter and got some separation because we turned them over a little bit, and then we were able to get some easy basketball.

“They had a couple of guys out tonight. I don’t know how much of a difference it made, but they average 30 together.”

Jamarian Heath led Handley with six points.

The Tigers missed swingman Cooper Perry forward Cordan Patterson for what first-year Handley coach Xavier Calloway called “stomach bugs and stuff.”

Handley had earned the right to host the area tournament before Friday’s game.

“We have to keep working one at a time and keep building, keep refining things to that help you just keep getting better,” Calloway said.  

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