The Cleburne County girls will enter the Tri-County Shootout winners of two of their three most recent games. The Tigers edged Saks 36-35 in a road game on Jan. 9, fell to visiting Ranburne 48-43 Saturday then picked up a 46-16 Class 4A, Area 10 win at Lincoln Tuesday.
Cleburne County, the host school for this year’s Tri-County Shootout, is the No. 2 seed in the girls bracket and will play No. 3 Horseshoe Bend today at 6 p.m. The girls championship game is set for Friday at 6 p.m. The girls consolation game will tip Friday at 3 p.m.
Tigers’ coach Todd Gable said the seeding process at last week’s seeding meeting was straightforward. Seeds were determined exclusively by overall record. Ranburne took the No. 1 seed and Clay Central is No. 4.
Tuesday night’s win over Lincoln moved Cleburne County to 10-8 overall and 2-2 in area play. It was Cleburne County’s second win over the Golden Bears and guaranteed that the Tigers will finish no lower than third in the area during the regular season.
Gable said Wednesday morning he had been challenging his players to play a full 32 minutes of solid basketball all season long and they almost achieved that Tuesday night.
“Except for about four minutes in the third quarter, we played a complete game (Tuesday) night,” Gable said. “They got after it. Even though the score was out of the way, we were still diving on the floor for loose balls. That’s always a good thing to see. Everybody got to play (Tuesday) night.”
The eventual outcome was clear by halftime as Cleburne County led 29-6.
Senior Toni Epps outscored the entire Lincoln team with 19 points. Against the Golden Bears’ 1-2-2 zone, Epps scored from the outside when left alone or attacked the basket with baseline drives when a defender moved closer to her. Epps was 6-for-8 at the free throw line and had three steals and three rebounds.
Kaity Zeiders and Shawntavia Boyd each scored six points. Zeiders added seven rebounds, five off the offensive glass. Boyd had two steals, two assists and two rebounds. KiaraAkles recorded five points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists. Alisa Norton had four points, three steals, three rebounds and two assists. Erykah Ware, Madison Jones and Bailey Norton each scored two points. Jones grabbed three rebounds. Ware had two assists and two rebounds. Bridget McClain also had two rebounds.
In the loss to Ranburne, Cleburne County fell behind 7-0 early and never led. Gable said his players got within one point of a tie in the fourth quarter before Ranburne eased ahead again.
“We did a good job of spreading the floor. Early on, we couldn’t get a basket,” Gable noted. “The main difference in the game was them getting offensive re bounds and us not blocking out like we should have.”
Akles had 10 points and two rebounds. Zeiders and Norton each scored seven points. Zeiders had four rebounds and Norton two. Boyd, Epps and Ware tallied six points apiece. Boyd’s seven rebounds were high for the Tigers. Ware added four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Epps had two boards. Lauren Brown scored one point and grabbed one rebound.
Against Saks, Cleburne County won despite about the coldest start imaginable. The Tiger trailed 13-2 at one point in the first quarter and were behind 13-9 when the first quarter closed. Gable said his players were able to convert turnovers into some easy baskets in the second quarter and did a better job in their half-court defense at the same time. At intermission, Cleburne County led 20-17.
Epps led the way with 13 points and five rebounds. Ware finished with 10 points, three assists, three steals and two rebounds. Boyd had six points, three rebounds and two steals. Zeiders led in rebounds with eight and scored four points. Norton had three points, three steals and three assists. Jones had two rebounds, one steal and one assist.