Regional champs … Again

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 25, 2003

The Calera Eagles (30-3) rode the hot hand of George Drake into the Final Four with their second Regional championship in as many years last weekend at Troy State University.

Drake scored 43 points in two games, including 17 in a 69-46 win over Vincent in the finals Friday.

The Eagles were slated to play Pisgah in the first round of the Final Four at the BJCC Tuesday at 1:30. With a win, Calera would play the winner of the R.C Hatch-Tanner matchup, scheduled for 10:30 Tuesday morning.

Charlie Jones led the Eagles in scoring in the finals with 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for a double-double. Dusty Downs was the only other Eagle in double figures with 10 points.

Calera head coach Robert Burdette said he was proud of the way his team performed.

&uot;We played well defensively, especially in the G.W. Long game,&uot; Burdette said. &uot;On the offensive end we didn’t play really, really good in either game. But we held our two opponents to 47 and 46 points, so that says a lot about our defense.

Terrance Olds scored 16 points and Andre McKinney scored 12 to lead the Yellow Jackets, who finished the season 14-16. James Carter chipped in eight points in the loss.

Drake was named the Regional tournament MVP for the second consecutive year. Calera’s Jones and Vincent’s Olds and Carter were named to the all-tournament team.

The Eagles made it to the finals with a 65-47 win over G.W. Long (25-7) in the first round last Tuesday. Drake paced the Eagles with 26 points on 10-of-20 from the floor. Drake also had five steals in the win. Jones and Downs were the only other Eagles in double figures with 11 points each.

Burdette commended the play of Downs in the Regional tournament.

&uot;It was good to get him back (from an ankle injury),&uot; Burdette said. &uot;It adds a lot of depth to your team, not to mention experience. He is a three-year starter who has played in 90-something varsity games and brings a lot to the floor.

&uot;Dusty hit a lot of key shots for us, especially in the Vincent game,&uot; Burdette said. &uot;He hit some big threes in that game when Vincent was trying to make a run and get back in the game.&uot;

Burdette said he thinks his team will be ready for the Final Four.

&uot;We have had a really long year and the kids have responded in some really tough games,&uot; Burdette said. &uot;I would be disappointed if they didn’t respond now.&uot;

Vincent made it to the finals with a 55-53 win over Wicksburg (25-3). Olds scored 20 points in the win including a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line. Carter scored 12 and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets in the win