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McCain leads Tigers to first-ever area championship

Raven McCain (area finals)

B.B. Comer senior Raven McCain earned MVP honors for her performance in the area championship game on Thursday.

SYLACAUGA — B.B. Comer senior Raven McCain scored the first and last points for the Tigers on Thursday night.

She also finished with most of the points in between, as McCain scored a game-high 31 to lead B.B. Comer to a 54-39 victory over Vincent in the Class 2A, Area 8 championship game. 

McCain's brilliance also earned her the area tournament MVP award, to the surprise of no one who watched her performance on Thursday night.

"Most of the time, your best player, you hide them on defense. … I feel like when she is more passive, we get hurt as a team," B.B. Comer coach Michael Hale said. "So putting her at the top of our press, it gets her active with her hand on the ball. When she scores, she forgets how tired she is."

The area championship was the first one in program history. It also ensures the Tigers' second-ever appearance in the state playoffs will include at least one home game.

"It's historic for the program," Hale said. "I feel like our program has been ready for this a couple years, but I equate everything to our senior leadership."

After the game, McCain was one of four Tigers named to the All-Tournament team. She was joined by freshman Aniyah Dates and fellow seniors Kaniya Stowes and Mellexia Harvey.

Three to know:

— It took McCain almost three minutes to score her first points, but once she did, it was clear nothing could slow her down on Thursday night.

McCain finished the quarter with 17 to give the Tigers a 19-4 lead. Her best stretch came when she blocked a shot at the top of the arc with 1:52 left in the quarter. McCain quickly recovered the loose ball and finished with a layup on the other end.

A few more steals and an offensive rebound allowed McCain to add six more points before she took a well-deserved breather on the bench with 55 seconds left in the first quarter. 

— McCain said her favorite play came in the third quarter when she buried a 3-point shot with two minutes left in the third quarter. She only scored five points in that period, but the senior said she enjoyed reminding the crowd that she could shoot from deep if needed.

— McCain left the game due to leg cramps shortly after her 3-point play. She rejoined the team at the start of the fourth quarter but had to be helped off the court after 30 seconds. McCain didn't return until close to the 2-minute mark.

Dates, the freshman, stepped up in her absence and scored seven of her 16 points to keep the Tigers in complete control of this one.

Who said:

Hale on what he said to Dates, who he insists will take over McCain's role next season a sophomore:

"'Soon as we hang the jerseys up this year you got the keys. Like it is your job.'... And now I got film to show her. Like she needed that quarter right there and I'm proud of her."

McCain on what it feels like to be named the MVP:

"Me and my team came a long way. I'm leading them to success. And we're not done. We're on our way to a championship game, and we got to win that. It's going to feel good to win that. We been working hard in practice. We ain't wasted time for no reason we're going to get the job done."

Up next:

B.B. Comer hosts the subregional round of the 2A tournament on Monday night at 6:30 p.m. The Tigers will face the loser of Lanett and LaFayette.

Sports Writer Tyler Waldrep: 256-299-2133. On Twitter: @tylerwaldrep