Qua Frazier scored 23 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, and the Bulldogs bagged their ninth straight victory in Friday’s sub-regional action, beating Alexandria 65-44.
Anniston (21-6), which made a 19-point margin improvement over its 80-78 overtime victory over Alexandria in the Calhoun County Tournament semifinals in January, will play Saturday’s Guntersville-DAR winner Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in a Class 4A game at Jacksonville State.
The Bulldogs will make their eighth Northeast Regional appearance under veteran coach Schuessler Ware, who has won two state titles, and they will come in as a hot team.
“We’re just keeping up our intensity,” Frazier said. “We keep playing team ball, not being selfish, helping on defense, and that’s it.”
Alexandria finished 16-8 a year after not advancing out of area tournament play.
“I’m very proud of these guys,” Alexandria coach Jason Johnson said. “These guys accomplished a lot. They had kind of a tough year last year, and the way they bounced back, I was just really, really proud of.”
The Valley Cubs’ thrilling game against Anniston in the county tourney promised more of the same Friday, but any chance for drama ended quickly.
The Bulldogs went on a 19-3 run after Alexandria’s Tyrelle Gay banked in a 3-pointer to tie the game 10-10 at 1:55 of the first quarter.
Anniston never looked back, leading 34-21 at halftime and by as many as 23 points, 61-38, on Demarcus Thomas’ drive with 4:10 left in the fourth quarter.
Thomas finished with 15 points, five rebounds and five assists, and Quint Dobbins had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Alexandria got nine points apiece from Dakota Kelley and C.J. Swink.
“We knew from the county that they were going to bring it to us,” Ware said. “It was a case of who was going to show up, so what we tried to do this time was do a better job preparing for them and be ready for them, because we knew they had a good team.”
What made the difference from Anniston’s last game against Alexandria?
More than anything, it was 20 offensive rebounds. Anniston also had 12 steals, with Frazier and Thomas getting three apiece.
“We couldn’t handle their press as well, had a lot of turnovers,” Johnson said. “The biggest thing, I think we gave up about 25 offensive rebounds. That allowed them to get the press going, because they made the basket after they missed the first one.
“We didn’t shoot real well, and we shot it well in the county tournament, but you have to give Anniston all the credit.”
Ware says his team has found itself.
“They’re playing together, talking up,” he said. “As a unit, they want it more.
“We’re trying to keep them hungry.”
Contact Sports Columnist Joe Medley at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter, @jmedley_star.