In this year’s tournament, there were a couple of surprises. One of the surprises came not on the court, but outside with the weather as unexpected snowfall cancelled Thursday night’s game forcing the championship games to be played on Monday night instead of Saturday.
The first upset of the tournament came when No. 7 seed Alexandria was upset by No. 10 seeded Pleasant Valley, and No. 2-5 seeds on the boy’s side all went down in defeat.
Meeting the No. 1 seed Oxford in the championship game will be Weaver, the No. 6 seed of the tournament. This will be the first time in the school’s history that the Wildcats will play in the championship game. However, the way the Weaver Bearcats played it came as no surprise that they had won the right to go against the top-seeded Yellow Jackets.
The girls’ side held no surprise when it came to the championship game. No. 1 seed Anniston breezed through the tournament with lopsided wins over JCA, Saks and White Plains to meet No. 2 Jacksonville, who had some scares along the way.
After an easy 69-16 win over Sacred Heart, that saw Head Coach Ryan Chambless able to give playing time to his whole team and rest his starters, Jacksonville had a rough road with Oxford and Piedmont.
Jacksonville lead Oxford 16-8 after the first quarter but the Lady Jackets whittled away the lead to just four points at the half, 32-28. The Lady Eagles had a strong third quarter scoring 22 points to Oxford’s 12 but then Oxford staged a comeback.
Down by 14, Oxford’s Jasmine Carter scored a basket, then had two steals and Brittany Higgins had another to lower the Jacksonville lead to just nine points with 2:19 remaining in the game.
A 3-point basket by Oxford’s Casmine Copeland gave the Lady Eagles just a six-point edge. Oxford scored yet again, the Lady Eagles dribbled out of bounds and Copeland hit again and suddenly Jacksonville’s lead was only two points with 35 seconds remaining.
Oxford had plenty of opportunity to pull the game out, stealing the ball yet again but missing the shot. Down 64-61 Oxford had the ball with 13.5 seconds remaining but dribbled out of bounds.
The Lady Eagles faced Piedmont the next day. No. 3 seed Piedmont had made it to the semi-finals with wins over Wellborn, 64-5, and No. 6 seed Ohatchee, 57-15. Against Ohatchee, Piedmont’s BreAnna Thompson had 20 points, Sarah Garner, 12 and Carlie Flowers 10 points.
Piedmont came out with an early first quarter lead, but the two teams were deadlocked 22-all at the end of the first half.
The second half could be called the “fast and the furious” as both teams went at top speed. Jacksonville’s Angel Kidd kept a fast paced tempo for her team and had five steals and 16 points to her credit. Kenyatta Ervin quietly went about her business of scoring underneath and was strong on the boards with nine rebounds. Sharon Osterbind was hard to stop for the Lady Eagles leading her team with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Piedmont countered with BreAnna Thompson and Sarah Garner. Thompson had 19 points and nine rebounds while Garner contributed 11 points and 14 rebounds.
The Lady Eagle’s flexed their muscles at the end of the third quarter. With Piedmont leading 32-29, Ervin pulled down three offensive rebounds before finally getting the shot to fall. Kidd hit from way out for a 3-pointer, followed it with another basket and a steal and basket by Virginia Poe at the buzzer gave the Lady Eagles a 38-32 lead going into the final quarter.
Jacksonville went up by as much as nine points. Piedmont tried for a comeback but fell short, losing 49-44.
On the boy’s side, teams in the Jacksonville News area made quite a showing. No. 10 seed Pleasant Valley pulled off an upset with a 63-61 win over No. 7 seed Alexandria.
The Raiders came out strong in the first quarter, outscoring the Cubs 22-13. Alexandria whittled the lead down to 34-25 at the half.
A wild second half ensued with Alexandria catching up and going ahead, but the Raiders staged their own comeback and held on at the end for the win.
Garrett Preston paced the Raiders with 28 points and Austin Tate added 12.
The No. 8 seeded Jacksonville, after winning their first game over Piedmont, had the second round game against No.1 seed Oxford in a game that was one-sided from the start. The Eagles were under-sized and under-manned to deal with the likes of a very athletic Oxford and went down in defeat 62-23. Sid Thurmond had eight points for the Golden Eagles.
In first round action No.2 seed White Plains beat 15 seed Wellborn 59-35. White Plains came out strong in the second half outscoring Wellborn 33-14 for the win.
Jaylen Hill had 23 points for White Plains followed by Dylan Randall with 15 and Nathan Gilbert with 10.
The win set up a second round game between White Plains and Pleasant Valley. Leading 30-22 at the half, White Plains once again poured it on in the second half outscoring the Raiders 31-13 for a 61-35 win.
Hill once again led the scoring with 18; Dale Reddick added 12 and Jacob Gaines had 10.
For Pleasant Valley, Garrett Preston had 14 points.
Weaver was the next opponent for White Plains and the Wildcats just couldn’t control the surprisingly strong Weaver Bearcats and fell 52-38. Weaver took over the game in the fourth quarter going on a 16-0 run and White Plains just couldn’t keep up. Hill ended with 19 points for White Plains while Chris English had 15, and Mike Stephens and Fernando Forbes had 11 for Weaver.
In early action in the tournament, in girl’s action No.9 seed JCA lost to No.8 seed Saks 55-31. Courtney Russaw led The Thunder with 16 points.
The JCA boys played No.3 seed Anniston and lost 70-24. Dakota Crook had 12 points for the Thunder.
Special note has to be made for the excellent way that JCA and Tommy Miller and his staff handled the hosting of the county tournament. Everything went off smoothly and was very well done making it a pleasant experience for the fans.