After a one-day delay due to weather conditions, the Cleburne County girls fell to Munford 53-35 in the semifinal round of the Class 4A, Area 10 tournament at Anniston on Feb. 7. The Tigers’ defensive pressure created opportunities for them to score in transition in the first quarter. When the first quarter ended, Cleburne County led 13-4.
“I thought we did a good job defensively in the first quarter,” Cleburne County coach Todd Gable said.
In the second quarter, the Lions took better care of the ball and Cleburne County’s transition chances evaporated. Gable said his team got the shots he wanted in its half-court offense but nothing would fall. The Tigers netted just one free throw in the second quarter and trailed 15-14 at intermission.
After three quarters, Cleburne County trailed 35-22.
Senior Toni Epps scored nine of her team-high 21 points in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough to counter Munford’s Kierra Groce, who scored 16 points in the second half. Epps had two of her four 3-point baskets in the fourth and was 3-for-4 at the free throw line. In addition to her 21 points, Epps also had two rebounds.
Freshman Shawntavia Boyd finished with nine points and three steals. Kaithy Zeiders had three points and three boards. Alisa Norton added two points, three assists and two steals. Kiara Akles contributed four rebounds and two steals. Erykah Ware had two rebounds and two steals.
The tournament concluded with the introduction of the regular-season all-area team. Akles, Boyd, Epps and Norton were Cleburne County’s representatives.
Cleburne County’s season ended at 13-13 with three of the losses coming against Munford. The Tigers lose Epps, Zeiders and Bridget McClain to graduation in May.
“Kaity and Toni, they’ve played varsity for three years. When I became varsity coach, they moved up from junior high,” Gable said. “I had them in junior high. They’ve been a joy to coach. They’ve always worked hard.”
McClain played one season early in her junior high days then returned to basketball as a senior.
“It was good having her back out,” Gable said of McClain. “I wish she had come back out earlier. She worked hard this season.”
The three seniors were the only post players on this year’s team so Gable will spend at least part of the off-season in search of one or more inside players. He said Epps, who played every position except point guard at some time in her high school career, would be particularly difficult to replace.