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Recruiting: Anniston’s Colley to reunite with Foster at Wallace-Selma

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Anniston's Airriana Colley drives the ball up the floor past Oneonta's Virginia Grace Ritchie. Anniston played Oneonta in a Class 4A girls Northeast Regional girls semifinal game Tuesday at Pete Mathews Coliseum at JSU. (Photo by Trent Penny)

Eddie Bullock knew he needed another shooter to take pressure off of his star guard.

The Anniston girls basketball coach also knew his best option needed to drop a few pounds to become more effective that way, so he and Airriana Colley did a diet challenge together during the offseason.

It all paid off for a state championship, and Colley has a big weight off of her shoulders after signing with Wallace-Selma.

The late scholarship offer will allow Colley to reunite with former Anniston teammate Toniah Foster and continue her playing career. Colley signed at her home in a private ceremony amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Honestly, I chose it because I wanted to play another year with my best friend, Toniah Foster,” Colley said. “I just talked to the coach, and I just liked his vibe.”

Colley averaged 6.4 points a game as a senior, helping Anniston’s girls to their first state championship. She was a constant 3-point threat, however, and showed it with six 3-pointers in Anniston’s victory over Sacred Heart in the Calhoun County final.

This came in a game where star point guard Allasha Dudley struggled against Sacred Heart’s Serena Hardy and a box-and-chase defense.

It was precisely the kind of scenario Bullock had in mind for Colley this past season.

“She meant a lot,” he said, “In order for us to be successful, we had to have somebody to take the pressure off of Allasha. We needed a consistent 3-pointer shooter. She came through for me. She was solid.”

One key was weight loss. Bullock challenged Colley in a weight-loss competition, and he lost 20 pounds to Colley’s 19.

“I told her she needed to go on a diet so she could run better, and she can have better wind,” Bullock said. “She gained a lot more confidence shooting the ball.”

Colley said the diet lasted about two months. She and Bullock gave up fried food, carbohydrates and sweets.

“It wasn’t hard at all, because I was a very committed person,” she said.

Colley also had 52 assists and 67 steals for Anniston, which finished 29-3 and beat Deshler 61-51 in the Class 4A final in Birmingham. Colley hit a big 3-pointer during the Bulldogs’ key, 11-2 run to gain separation in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs also bagged their seventh Northeast Regional title and 20th county title. They won their final 19 games.

Colley was a second-team 4A-6A All-Calhoun County selection.

“It means a lot to know that, before you graduated high school, you made history,” Colley said.

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