Poe leads Jacksonville comeback to edge Anniston in final
by Lori Tippets
They say that perseverance pays off and for Jacksonville’s Virginia Poe it really does.

Poe, a sophomore, scored 23 points and had three key steals in Jacksonville’s come from behind 59-57 victory over Anniston for the Calhoun County Championship. The title marks the first time the Lady Eagles have won the county championship since 2001.

Poe came alive in the tournament at just the right time. In the three previous games of the county tournament Poe had scored two points against Sacred Heart, nine against Oxford and eight against Piedmont.

Poe, who lives by her 3-point shot, had put up 142 3-pointers for the season by the time the championship game came along and all that shooting and willingness to keep at it finally paid off in the championship game.

The sophomore, who has been described as having “ice in her veins” hit on 5-of-9 three point attempts to include hitting her first two 3’s for Jacksonville’s first six points of the game.

Despite holding a six point lead Anniston came back in the first quarter and Jacksonville led only 12-10 at the end of the first quarter.

The Lady Bulldogs, led by post player Quanetria Bolton and Evonna Jordan, who scored 17 and 19 points respectively, led the charge in the second quarter and outscored the Lady Eagles 18-9. The Lady Eagles found themselves down at the half, 28-21.

Lady Eagle Coach Ryan Chambless said his team wasn’t discouraged at the half. “They were frustrated about themselves,” said Chambless. “We talked about what we needed to do to keep us in it.”

Anniston continued to play strong in the third quarter, going up by as much as 13 points. Suddenly, a spark went off or as Coach Chambless says, “A switch came on. The girls got after it . I can’t say enough about it.”

Anniston, who had won back-to-back county championships found themselves in a whole new game. After not having scored for the first four minutes of the quarter, suddenly Jacksonville was on fire.

Sharon Osterbind, who finished the game with 17 points and seven rebounds, had four baskets. Poe hit yet another 3-pointer and had a layup and just like that the Lady Eagles were in the game, down only 34-30.

The fourth quarter was a frenzy of activity as both teams raced up and down the court. Anniston appeared to be rattled while the Lady Eagles, defending state champions, seemed to be more confident and poised as the game went on.

In the fourth quarter Poe hit another three pointer. “They played a lot of zone,” explained Chambless. “I told her (Poe) she was going to get a lot of looks. I told her she was a shooter and that she had to take the shot. I told her that if she missed the first three shots to keep shooting; that’s what a shooter has to do.”

A basket by Osterbind and a steal and basket by Poe brought the score to within four at 45-41. Poe continued her unbelievable and inspired play as she stole the ball again for another basket and had yet another layup to tie up the game at 45-all with 6:10 remaining.

The two teams continued a back-and forth game with Bolton and Osterbind jockeying for position under the basket.

The Lady Eagles fouled sending Anniston to the line for a 53-50 lead.

Kenyatta Ervin, always strong for the Lady Eagles underneath, put one in to cut the lead for Anniston to just one.

Jacksonville’s Darrien Martin, only a ninth grader, hit her first and only basket of the game, a 3-pointer to give the Lady Eagles a 55-53 lead and the Lady Eagles never found themselves down again.

Ervin, who was a perfect 6-for-6 from the line and finished the game with 10 points and 11 very big rebounds, sank two more foul shots and point guard Angel Kidd, who had seven assists in the game, put in the final two points from the line for the 59-57 win.

While the shooting for the Eagles was impressive, Poe from outside and Osterbind from the lane and Ervin from underneath, it was the defense in the fourth quarter that won the game for the Lady Eagles. Time and again Anniston was guilty of turnovers as Jacksonville’s full court trap was just too much for the Lady Bulldogs to handle.

“As great of a job as Virginia did shooting the ball, I think it was her defense on the press that won us the game,” commented Chambless. “She (Poe) and Darrien did a great job stopping the ball allowing Sharon to trap. That’s what got us back in the game.”

Chambless also felt that the schedule of the tournament helped the Lady Eagles. Jacksonville’s No.2 seeding pitted them first against Sacred Heart, which the Lady Eagles won easily 69-16. Next up for the Jacksonville team was Oxford, a very strong No.7 seed that gave the Lady Eagles all they could handle for a 64-61 win.

The road didn’t get any easier for Jacksonville as they faced No. 3 Piedmont, winning 49-44.

The No. 1 seed Anniston had an easy time beating Saks 50-19, and White Plains 58-22.

“When you play stronger competition it makes you better, especially in tight games. We played in tight games last year and tight games this year. I think that helped us, especially in the championship game,” said Chambless.

For Jacksonville, the Lady Eagles now have a trophy that declares them to be the best in the county, to go along with a trophy declaring them best in the state.

Osterbind was named Most Valuable Player of the Tournament as well as best Defensive Player. Joining Osterbind on the All-County Tournament team were Ervin, Kidd and Poe.
© 2013