Calhoun girls earn Class 1A Area 5 runners-up

Published 8:44 pm Friday, February 10, 2023

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The Calhoun School girls’ basketball team earned Class 1A Area 5 runners-up on Feb. 8, gaining the title after a 52-51 loss to Autaugaville School.

The Lady Tigers hosted the Area 5 championship game, falling to the Eagles in the narrow loss which delivered the championship to Autaugaville.

Calhoun girls coach Jay Sansom said the match was a close game in which the Tigers played hard.

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“It was a really close game,” Sansom said. “The girls played hard, and the refs called the game really tight. Our girls got in foul trouble. We had a couple foul out. Well played though, so I’m proud of them.”

Autaugaville girls coach Javaris Jackson said the victory represented the third game in which the two teams met on the court.

“It was an exciting game, down to the wire,” Jackson said. “The two teams had been battling it out. This was our third time playing each other. I knew this was going to be a tough game, but I told my girls we were just going to have to come out strong and stay out of foul trouble. I changed my defense up a little bit for the game and it ended up working out for us.”

Sansom said Calhoun experienced a good season, playing larger schools and rising to the challenge.

“I’m very proud of how we played,” Sansom said. “We opened up the season playing schools that were 7A, 6A, 5A, and 4A schools which were a lot bigger than us. They performed well in those games and got a lot better as the season went on.”

According to Jackson, Autaugaville had a strong season, going 12-11 through some tough games with bigger schools.

“We had a great season,” Jackson said. “Our record at the moment is 12-11. We had a lot of tough losses to some bigger schools. We had two losses to Central [High School in Hayneville] and Calhoun, but overall, we’re having a great season.”

Jackson said power forward and junior, Makasiah Burns, gained 30 points in the game and helped lead her team to victory.

“She had some key free throws, and she was just being a team leader,” Jackson said. “She was being a general and didn’t get rattled. Her will and determination to win and want to be a great player made the difference.”

Seniors Candace Brown led the Tigers in the tournament, gaining 29 points and 21 rebounds during the game. Sansom noted Brown and point guard Layla Gary were team leaders throughout the season.

“Layla was very good defensively this year,” Sansom said. “She’s also very good on the ball. She makes life difficult for the other team’s guard, which does sometimes lead to picking up some fouls, but she handles the ball a lot.”

During the first round of state playoffs Monday at Autaugaville, Calhoun succumbed to Loachapoka High School with a 58-24 loss. Autagauville met Billingsley High School during the subregional games hosted at Autaugaville, defeating the Bears 35-32.

Autaugaville advances to the Central Regional Semi-Finals on Feb. 16 to challenge Amelia L. Johnson High School in Mobile.