PLEASANT VALLEY — Say this about Jonathan Odam’s first Piedmont boys basketball team: it’s breaking a mold.
So much for the program that historically starts slowly in basketball because football keeps its players busy deep into the playoffs.
Delo Foster turned in 16 points, six rebounds and three blocks, and the Bulldogs' boys handled Pleasant Valley 65-31 in Class 3A, Area 11 action Thursday.
The boys’ victory gave Piedmont a split in the boy-girl doubleheader. Pleasant Valley’s girls held off Piedmont’s fourth-quarter rally to win 70-65.
The Bulldog boys won their sixth game in a row, improving to 12-2. Sunday saw Calhoun County coaches vote them as the No. 4 seed in the county tournament, which starts Jan. 19.
All of this comes as long-time assistant coach Jonathan Odam forays into his first season as Piedmont’s head coach, succeeding the retired Tommy Lewis. Odam credits his four seniors, Foster, Carl Myers, Kaedon Jenkins and T.J. Fairs … all big contributors to Piedmont’s run to the state football finals.
“They’ve been around the program,” Odam said. “Those guys are leading us and getting us to where we need to be. They stepped up.
“We didn’t play great early. We won some games early, but we weren’t playing well. We’re hitting our stride now.”
Piedmont’s current streak includes two victories over Jacksonville and routs of Wellborn, Hokes Bluff, Saks and Pleasant Valley. The Bulldogs began the season with a five-game winning streak.
They’ve done it with a ring of shooters around Foster, the 6-6 post. Myers added 15 points Thursday. Fairs scored 11 and Alex Odam 10. The Bulldogs combined for eight 3-pointers. Fairs and Myers hit three apiece.
“We knew last year, when we got beat by Plainview (in the Northeast Regional) that we were going to be pretty good,” Foster said. “We knew we weren’t going to start off slow.”
Joshua Ballew paced Pleasant Valley (3-11) with 10 points, and Coleman Haynes added nine.
The Raiders came into the game short-handed. Missing players include Brody Phillips, the football quarterback and baseball standout who underwent arm surgery.
“Piedmont is very good, and I think they’re deep,” Pleasant Valley coach Ryan Chambless said. “When I sat in that county seeding meeting, I haven’t seen Anniston, Sacred Heart or Oxford, but I thought, man, Piedmont is about as good a team as I’ve seen this year.
“They’re disciplined. They shoot the ball really well, and they play well together.”
Pleasant Valley girls 70, Piedmont 65: Lindsey Pritchett scored 13 points (11-8), including two 3-pointers — one to end the first half and one to start the second — to highlight a 13-0 Raider run that led to a 36-21 lead early in the third quarter.
Pleasant Valley also got 12 points from Rylee Haynes and 11 each from Karmyn Sparks, Brooke Perry and Chandler Dorsett
With Emma Hood and Sparks fouled out in the fourth quarter, Piedmont (7-7) rallied from a 55-40 deficit to within 65-62 on Kayley Kirk’s layup with 1:10 left. Pleasant Valley scored the next five points to hang on.
“When Karmyn and Emma are out, we drop off a little,” Pleasant Valley coach Brad Hood said. “They’re our leading scorers. Karmyn is a 10-10 (points and rebounds) average, and Emma is a 14-8 average, and Emma is our leading assist and second-leading scorer.
“We can’t have them both out, ever, and they were both fouled out almost all of the fourth quarter. I called on some of those JV girls, and they were ready.”
Pritchett’s defense was big for Pleasant Valley, forcing Kirk to drive. Kirk scored 22 points, 12 in the fourth quarter, but hit one 3-pointer.
Piedmont’s Sydney Prater scored a game high 31 points, 20 in the second half.
“When they had two starters go to the bench, I told her, we’ve got to spread this thing out,” Piedmont coach Terrace Ridley said. “We got it down within three, then we come back and started doing different once again, not spreading out and not getting to the lane.”