Tonight is do-or-die time for the Cleburne County girls’ basketball team. The Tigers meet nemesis Munford in the semifinal round of the Class 4A, Area 10 tournament in Anniston. Tonight’s game begins at 6 p.m. No. 1 Anniston and No. 4 Lincoln follow at around 7:30 p.m. The semifinal winners advance to Monday’s 6 p.m. championship game and are guaranteed at least one additional game, the sub-regional round.
To advance, the Tigers must find a way to handle the Lions, now 2-0 against Cleburne County this season. Munford won the most recent meeting Saturday in Heflin by a 50-32 margin. Cleburne County coach Todd Gable said his team faced a tightly packed 2-3 zone defense which took away Cleburne County’s inside game to the post and penetration offense.
“They were giving us every shot we wanted outside,” Gable said. “We just couldn’t make them. … They were all close shots. They just weren’t falling.”
Gable said there were lots of almost baskets, shots that seemed good then rattled out. The Tigers netted only one 3-point basket – by Toni Epps in the first quarter. Munford led just 17-14 at halftime then outscored Cleburne County 20-7 in the third quarter.
Shawntavia Boyd led the Tigers with 12 points and Epps scored 11 points. Epps and Boyd each grabbed four rebounds. Kiara Akles led in rebounds with 10 and scored two points. Bridget McClain had four points and one steal. Kaity Zeiders scored three points and nabbed two boards. Erykah Ware and Madison Jones had two rebounds apiece and Ware added an assist. Lauren Brown finished with two assists and one steal.
At Alexandria Monday, Alexandria won 48-40 as the Tigers completed regular season play. A 16-5 advantage in the second quarter was the turning point for the Valley Cubs. Zeiders had 11 points and three rebounds. Alisa Norton contributed nine points, three assists and four steals. Ware and Akles each scored six points. Ware recorded three assists and Akles added six rebounds and two steals. Boyd had three steals, three rebounds and one point. Brown ended with two assists, two steals and two rebounds.
“We had a good practice yesterday and we’re having a good one today,” Gable said late Friday afternoon, noting that the Tigers have now seen the Lions play both man and zone in their two games. “Hopefully, we’ll have an answer either way but we’ve got to make the shots and play good defense.”
Gable also said the Tigers must play well consistently throughout their remaining games rather playing in spurts.