After finishing second in the Faith Christian Thanksgiving tournament and second again in the Haralson County Invitational during Christmas vacation, the Cleburne County girls were ready for something different in last week’s Tri-County Shootout on their home court.
What they got was a tournament championship and their first win of the season over intra-county rival Ranburne at the same time. The Tigers downed the Bulldogs 48-42 in Friday night’s girls championship game.
“We were hungry to get that championship trophy,” said Cleburne County coach Todd Gable, who also got a water-bottle shower in the postgame celebration.
Gable said his team was able to play a full 32 minutes of solid basketball, overcoming an early third quarter push by Ranburne and the loss of two starters to fouls later.
“They were pumped up. It was good to see. They were real excited. They wanted to beat Ranburne. (Ranburne) had already beaten them twice this year,” Gable noted.
The first quarter ended with Cleburne County leading 12-11. At the half, each team had 18 points. The Bulldogs scored the initial two baskets of the second half but Cleburne County was back on top 31-29 when the third quarter ended. Gable said in the fourth quarter, Ranburne began to overplay defensively and the Tigers were better able to attack the basket.
Shawntavia Boyd scored eight of Cleburne County 17 points in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 12 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists. Toni Epps led in scoring with 17 points and had four 3-point baskets. Epps added six rebounds. Kaity Zeiders had eight points and four boards. Erykah Ware recorded five points, three rebounds and two steals. Kiara Akles scored four points, nabbed a team-best seven rebounds and added three steals. Point guard Alisa Norton contributed two points, three assists, three rebounds and six steals.
To reach the championship game, Cleburne County downed Horseshoe Bend 36-26 in Thursday’s early semifinal game. The Generals played a slow tempo on offense and packed the paint in a tight 2-3 zone when Cleburne County had the ball. Gable said his team showed patience on offense in response to the zone. The Tigers led 11-8 after the first quarter, 20-14 at halftime and 26-19 when the third quarter ended.
Norton was Cleburne County‘s only player to reach double figures in scoring but eight other Tigers scored. Norton had 11 points, three assists and two rebounds. Boyd and Epps each tallied six points and Epps added two boards. Akles finished with three points, six rebounds and three steals. Zeiders, Ware, Bridget McClain, Lauren Brown and Grace Conkle each scored two points. Zeiders had seven rebounds and Madison Jones had six rebounds. Brown added four rebounds and Bailey Norton had two boards.