Following a close win on Monday against 11th-seeded Faith Christian, the Bearcats (15-6) defeated traditional county powerhouse, third-seeded Anniston, 58-47, on Friday night.
“This was for bragging rights in the county,” Weaver guard Chris English said. “No one wants to lose to Anniston, and I know I didn’t, so we came out and played hard.
“We’re here to win it all.”
With the crowd slowly arriving as the game began, the Bearcats and Anniston (12-11) saw the lead change seven times in the first half with the Bulldogs holding it, 18-16, as the buzzer sounded.
“We came out in the first half playing man and they were getting into the lane too easy,” Weaver coach Daryl Hamby said. “We went to a little jump defense that I learned from Larry Ginn and it worked out well for us. The kids rebounded well and got the ball out. I thought offensively we were patient.”
In the new defense, the Bearcats were able to put together a 13-1 run after Anniston lead by four, which would be its biggest lead on the night, taking a 29-21 lead into the half, after the Bulldogs only scored three points in the second quarter.
“The key to it is being consistent,” Anniston coach Schuessler Ware said. “And we aren’t being consistent.”
Weaver, however, was consistent throughout the game.
Leading by as many as 12 points in the third quarter, Weaver stayed consistent as Anniston could not find a way to stop English, who finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, and Timothy Hawkins, who finished with 14 points and 11 boards.
“We have a tendency to worry about things that we have no control of,” Ware said. “And when you worry about things that you have no control of, you’re not going to do well.”
Despite Anniston making a push at a comeback, hovering around a 10-point deficit throughout most of the fourth, led by Monqavious Frazier, who scored 18 points, and Quint Dobbins, who pulled down 15 boards, Weaver was able to put the Bulldogs away to advance to today’s semifinals.
The Bearcats face a much bigger challenge today, facing second-seeded White Plains.
Weaver has not had any success against “The Machine,” as Hamby called them, dropping both matchups, most recently a 67-58 loss on Jan. 8.
“Coach (Chris) Randall has his kids always playing well,” Hamby said. “They don’t make a lot of mistakes and play very good defense.
“We just have to be disciplined. They make limited mistakes and then they capitalize on your mistakes. You’ve just got to play very disciplined and understand the type of ball you have to play.”
English, who scored 16 against the Wildcats earlier this month, showed confidence that Weaver could step up to the challenge today at Pete Mathews Coliseum.
“I’m sure coach (Hamby) is going to draw up a good game plan just like he did for Anniston,” he said. “We’re just going to have to execute.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.