011219_Anniston_Ramsay gbkb_006 tp.jpg

Anniston's Kiana Montgomery pushes the ball past a Ramsay defender. Anniston played host to Ramsay Saturday in high school basketball action. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)

Eddie Bullock wasn’t a happy man Saturday.

The Anniston girls coach wasn’t happy with how a dispute over shorthanded Ramsay’s final timeout resolved itself. He wasn’t happy that his Anniston girls team, ranked No. 8 in Class 4A, just pushed 5A’s top-ranked team to the limit.

A 70-69 loss at home, in a game Anniston led most of the way, was no moral victory.

“I think we did well. We could’ve beat them,” Bullock said. “We should’ve beat them. It’s just a couple of breaks, and we’ve got to get a couple of breaks.”

Anniston fell to 16-4 after going 3-1 over the week following the announcement of seedings for the Calhoun County tournament. They routed Talladega, Guntersville and Cleburne County.

Saturday’s 4 p.m. matinee, Anniston’s third game in as many days, served up the juiciest matchup, though Ramsay (13-3) had five players, including two starters, sit out while nursing injuries. The list included senior point guard Jaylyn Sherrod, a Colorado signee, with a hip injury.

Sherrod was cleared to play, Ramsay coach Ronnie Jackson said. She wore team warmups but didn’t play.

Jackson expected a tough outing.

“We just got our No. 1 ranking, and I knew we were going to get their best shot,” he said.

Anniston got 19 points apiece from guard Allasha Dudley and forward Toniah Jackson and 16 from center Toniah Foster. The Bulldogs led by as many as nine points at 37-28 after Airriana Colley and Dudley opened the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers.

Ramsay quickly closed the gap to within 50-46 by third quarter’s end and took a 57-56 lead on Elisa Safford’s trey with 4:40 left. It was the first of four lead changes down the stretch.

Anniston led 69-63 when Dudley hit the first of two free throws, but another Safford 3-pointer and Keiarra Griffin’s bucket in the paint quickly brought the Rams within 69-68 with 32 seconds left.

Anniston’s Jackson missed two free throws at 28.9 seconds, setting up the controversial finish. Ramsay called timeout at 18 seconds, and the timeout call turned into a huddle of officials and scorebook keepers.

“My home book told the officials that they didn’t have any more timeouts,” Bullock said. “The guest book said they had one, so we got overruled, and they gave them a timeout.”

By rule, home scorebook prevails in disputes.

Had officials determined that Ramsay called a timeout it didn’t have, the Rams would’ve been assessed a technical foul. That would’ve meant free throws and possession for Anniston.

As it was, Ramsay got possession, and Griffin scored in the lane with 6.5 seconds left to win the game and finish off a 23-point performance.

“They went man-to-man, and that’s good for us,” Jackson said. “We like to take advantage of our speed. We drove, kicked and got in the lane and got an easy layup.”

Dudley said the Bulldogs got in man defense by mistake. They were expecting technical free throws plus a possession, likely involving another trip to the foul line, with Ramsay fouling to stop the clock.

“Coach said play man if we shoot the free throws, but we didn’t shoot the free throws,” she said. “We were supposed to be in 12 (1-2-2 zone) and didn’t get in 12.”

Anniston plays Cleburne County and White Plains on Monday and Tuesday then has a week off before its Calhoun County tourney opener against an undetermined opponent. As one of the top four seeds, Anniston has a double bye into the quarterfinals.

“We always learn from our mistakes,” Dudley said. “This game right here is going to make us play harder.”

Anniston boys 68, Ramsay 62: Antonio Kite is no normal freshman, and the Anniston point guard showed it down the stretch against Ramsay.

He finished with 18 points, including eight of the Bulldogs’ final 12 points plus a key rebound in traffic and outlet to William Fairley for a layup to put Anniston up 66-61 with 35 seconds left.

“He does so much for us,” Anniston coach Torry Brown said. “We called on him tonight. We knew they were going to come out and pressure with five or six different looks, and they did.

“He stayed steadfast. He held the ball. He was ball-tough tonight. Not only did he score for himself, but he got some really good looks for his teammates.”

Kite’s play down the stretch helped Anniston (15-6) hold off Ramsay’s rally from 47-34 deficit at the end of the third quarter. Center Theron Montgomery also scored 18 points.

Kisean Johnson led Ramsay (9-11) with 23 points. Kewaski Jackson added 15, and Todd Battle scored 11.

“We’ve played spotty at times, but we’ve had our third three-game stretch of the season, back-to-back-to-back,” Brown said. “I told the kids, if we want to accomplish our goal in the county, we’re going to have that three-game stretch.

“We didn’t always play well in those three games, but tonight, I thought we played our best of the three games.”

Like the girls team, Anniston plays Cleburne County and White Plains on Monday and Tuesday then has a week off before its county-tourney opener against an undetermined opponent. As the No. 3 seed, Anniston has a double bye into the quarterfinals.

“We’re good,” Kite said. “We’ve just got to work on our defense and box out and get rebounds.”

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.