Lady Bulldogs finish runner up

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Andalusia’s Alison Daniels (32) evades Jacksonville's Angel Kidd Saturday during the Class 4A girls state championship against Jacksonville. The Lady Bulldogs fell to the Lady Golden Eagles 63-54 to finish runner up in the state. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Andalusia girls fall in 4A state title game to JHS 63-54

BIRMINGHAM — Sometimes great stories have sad endings.

Andalusia’s record-setting season came to an end on Saturday as fifth-ranked Jacksonville claimed a 63-54 victory to win the Class 4A state championship at the BJCC Arena.

With this loss, the Lady Bulldogs finished the season 30-3 and the state runner up. Their last loss came on Nov. 21, against Central-Phenix City, and then the Lady Bulldogs went on to win 28 straight, surpassing last year’s new record.

Jacksonville screamed out to a 17-7 lead at the end of the first period, and led 36-23 at half time.

However, Andalusia started to chip away at the Lady Golden Eagles’ lead in the second half, outscoring JHS 17-12 in the third period in its best eight minutes of the game. AHS trailed 48-40 at the end of the third.

Jacksonville’s Lacey Buchanon, who won tournament MVP honors, kept the Lady Golden Eagles alive with a clutch drive to the paint to help lead her team on a 7-0 run that put it away for Andalusia in the last 1:48 of the fourth period.

Before the late JHS run, AHS got to within two points at 56-54 thanks to a 9-0 run in the fourth period.

Leading 56-54, Buchanon drove down the court and got a lay up to bring her team to a 58-54 advantage. Then, AHS star guard Alexis Horton missed two free throws with 1:03 left.

On the other end, JHS put the game away when Virgina Poe drained a 3-pointer to put the Golden Eagles ahead 61-54.

AHS coach Bennie Shellhouse said he was “proud” of the girls on how they played.

“When you get down 20 points, it takes a lot of heart to fight back,” Shellhouse said. “We had our opportunities there at the end.

“We’ve been blessed to be here and things have gone well for us,” he said. “But, things didn’t work out for us in the end.”

Shellhouse said when his team cut the game back to two, he thought they had a chance.

“I really thought we were going to get over the hump, but we never did,” he said. “She (Buchanon) went down and made the jump shot. We talked about getting down and making sure we were covering it, and we didn’t.”

Horton, who led the Lady Bulldogs with 22 points, echoed what Shellhouse said about making it this far when asked about the season overall.

“It’s great that we were here and not watching others play,” she said.

When asked for comment on the season, seniors Shi’Amber Townsend and Alison Daniels, who made the jumper that cut the game back to 56-54, were too emotional to reply.

Buchanon led JHS with 29 points, and Kenyatta Ervin chipped in a double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds) for JHS. Sharon Osterbind and Poe had nine points each.

The Lady Golden Eagles had a strong inside game and defense from the beginning of the contest.

Buchanon fed the ball well to Ervin, and Osterbind was there for essential rebounds. Osterbind finished with 10 rebounds.

Andalusia scored two points with 7:08 on the clock in the first period and went on a dry spell for the next five minutes as JHS went on a 10-0 run.

Off of inbound plays, JHS took advantage as Buchanon was at the right place at the right time to nab a few steals and get easy buckets on the other end.

Andalusia cut Jacksonville’s lead to 32-21 late in the second on a pass from Horton to Townsend.

For every bucket Andalusia would make in the second half and despite chipping at JHS’ lead, Buchanon was there with an answer, either on a jump shot or drive to the paint.

JHS (31-4) led 39-28 after a Poe 3-pointer with 6:30 in the third period, and broke the camel’s back with 43 seconds to go in the game with another to put her team up for good at 61-54.

“That’s a tremendous win, man,” JHS coach Ryan Chambless said. “That’s a great accomplishment to these girls. I couldn’t be more proud of them.

“I think I’ve got the best group of girls in the state,” he said. “We held it out and finished strong at the end and that’s how you win championships.”

Buchanon’s drive to the paint to cut the game at 58-54 came on a turn over from AHS.

“We missed some shots that we normally would hit,” Shellhouse said about the final 1:48 of the game. “They got rebounds and (Buchanon) put it in the hole. She played a great game.”

Townsend chipped in 16 points and Daniels had eight points and seven rebounds for AHS in the loss. Tyleshia Malcolm, a junior, had 12 rebounds for the Lady Bulldogs.

Down the stretch, AHS had an opportunity to bridge the gap, but late turn overs plagued the Lady Bulldogs, who were looking for their first state title since 2001.

Even though she led AHS with 22 points, Horton had 11 turn overs for the game.

Horton and Townsend were also selected to the All-Tournament team.