By East Alabama Sports Today
ANNISTON – Things couldn’t have started off any worse for the young Cherokee County girls basketball team looking to make a big splash in the Class 4A playoffs.
The Lady Warriors lost Mary Hayes Johnson, one of their quickest guards and leading scorers, to an ankle injury on the first play of the game. She never returned, but her teammates made no excuses and hung with the defending 4A champions throughout the game.
In the end, however, Anniston had too much inside and too much Allasha Dudley and ended the Lady Warriors’ season 57-42.
“I’m extremely proud of the way our team came in here and fought,” Lady Warriors coach Leah Nelson said. “We have a lot of reasons to make excuses, but this team has not made excuses all year. They are very competitive. They always fight to stay in the game.
“In the third quarter we lost a little bit of momentum and trying to get that back against a really good team is difficult. When you’re outmatched, we’re trying to do the best we can.”
Dudley scored 32 points, scoring 14 in the first quarter and finishing it up by going 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the fourth, to lead Anniston. Barclay had nine points and 15 rebounds.
Losing Johnson was a big blow. but it didn’t alter the Lady Warriors’ approach. Despite the early setback, they bounced back from two seven-point deficits to get within one late in the second quarter before Dudley hit a 3 in the closing seconds to make it a four-point game at halftime.
One of Karlee Perry’s four 3-pointers got the Lady Warriors (22-8) within 30-26 early in the third quarter, then Anniston zipped off the next seven points and never led by less than four the rest of the game.
“It was a huge blow to the team,” Nelson said, “but I feel like they stepped up.”
Audrey Green led Cherokee County with 18 points. Perry had 12 on her 3-pointers. Ella Garmany finished with six rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.