Entering the Haralson County (Ga.) Hilburn-Patterson Invitational basketball tournament, the Cleburne County girls will be looking to rebound from losses in their two most recent games. The Tigers open the Haralson County tournament at noon Central Friday against Bremen (Ga.). A win over Bremen puts Cleburne County in the championship bracket semifinals Saturday at 6 p.m. Central against the winner of Friday’s game between host Haralson County and Rockmart (Ga.) and assures a third tournament game Monday. Should the Tigers lose Friday they will play only one more tournament game, a consolation bracket contest Monday at noon against the Haralson County versus Rockmart loser.
Anniston defeated Cleburne County 57-31 in a Class 4A, Area 10 game at Heflin Friday evening then Ranburne downed the Tigers at Ranburne Saturday afternoon 65-51.
Following Saturday’s loss, Cleburne County coach Todd Gable had a heart-to-heart conversation with his players, telling them, “What we’re doing now is we’re trying to get better each and every game to be better in February in area tournament time. Right now, all it is is just to get better. Friday night, I thought we took a few steps forward and I thought Saturday we took a few steps backward because we can play better than that. What we’ve got to do is refresh and come back in this Georgia tournament.”
Gable said the Tigers opened strong against Area 10 favorite Anniston and held a 5-4 lead midway through the first quarter. A 3-point basket by Quanetria Bolton sparked Anniston’s 7-0 run to end the first quarter and started the Bulldogs on their way to a 32-12 halftime advantage.
“The first four or five minutes, I thought we played great,” Gable said. “We were right there with them. Their press wasn’t bothering us.”
Gable also liked what he saw in the second half when the Tigers played full-court, man-to-man defense. Anniston won the second half, too, but just 25-19.
Toni Epps led Cleburne County in scoring with eight points and added four rebounds.
Alisa Norton recorded seven points, four assists, three steals and three rebounds. Erykah Ware contributed six points, four steals and three assists.
Kiara Akles led in rebounds with seven and added two steals and one point.
Kaity Zeiders grabbed six rebounds and netted four points. Shawntavia Boyd had three points, three rebounds and two assists. Madison Jones finished with two points and two rebounds.
Ranburne led Cleburne County 18-14 after one quarter and increased its four-point advantage by four points in the second quarter, one in the third and five in the fourth.
Against Ranburne, Norton scored 15 points. She also had three rebounds and two assists. Akles had 14 points and five boards. Zeiders was 6-for-6 at the free throw line and ended with eight points. Boyd scored five points and drew three charging fouls.
Ware had four points, three assists and two rebounds. Epps had three points and an equal number of rebounds. Lauren Brown had three rebounds and two points. Jones and Zeiders each grabbed two rebounds.