Best in the county Drake leads Eagles in sweep of county tourney

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 13, 2004

When the Shelby County basketball tournament began last week at Thompson High School in Alabaster, all eyes were on the Calera Eagles.

Coach Robert Burdette’s bunch was the No. 1 seed in the tournament and ranked No. 2 in the state’s sports-writers poll.

And when the Eagles opened up against Briarwood on Tuesday, all eyes were on super junior George Drake.

Drake started in style, scoring 26 points and throwing down crowd-igniting dunks to lead the Eagles to a 70-51 win against the Lions.

Drake’s performance throughout the tournament earned him MVP honors and helped Calera claim the title.

Calera avenged last year’s lost to Oak Mountain in the tournament championship game by defeating the Eagles 49-42, despite a tournament low 11-points from Drake.

&uot;We’ve got good enough players around him that even if he struggles, we can win,&uot; Burdette said.

While Drake was only 23.5 percent from the field, he still managed eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals. He also drew two charges and kept Calera in the game with several clutch shots.

&uot;The expectations for George are extremely high,&uot; Burdette said.

So high, in fact, that University of Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried was at Tuesday’s game and Auburn had representatives at Thompson on Saturday night.

Drake finished the tournament with a 20.6 PPG average, 21 rebounds, eight blocks, eight steals and seven assists.

After beating Briarwood in the opening round, Calera went to the wire against Shelby County in the semifinals, edging out a

66-65 win.

Down six with a minute to play, the Eagles came back to win against the Wildcats.

Drake scored 25 and Terry Green had 16 points in the Calera win.

&uot;After the Friday night game I didn’t know how much our kids had left,&uot; Burdette said.

CHS got off to a slow start against Oak Mountain in the championship game and trailed at the half, 21-16.

But Calera came out strong in the second half, scoring 33 points to claim a 49-42 win.

&uot;The three wins we had were what people would call high quality wins,&uot; Burdette said. &uot;I thought the games we played were tough games.

&uot;Trey Russell’s been very solid for us,&uot; Burdette said. &uot;Defensively he justs gets after people and he takes care of the ball for us by not making many turnovers.&uot;

Russell had 12 rebounds and 13 steals for the Eagles during the tournament.

&uot;C.J. Pearson played extremely well in the tournament,&uot; Burdette said.

Pearson was 50 percent from the field in the championship game and scored 16 points.

Paul Delbridge was also a key factor pulling down offensive rebounds, Burdette said.

Named to the Shelby County all-tournament team were MVP George Drake, Calera; C.J. Pearson, Calera; Trey Russell, Calera; Jarvis Hunter, Oak Mountain; Adam LuQuire, Oak Mountain; Lee Pope, Montevallo; Tim Ansley, Pelham; Cortez Cotton, Shelby County; Grant Sullivan, Chelsea; Patrick Lofthus, Thompson; and Charles Hoke, Briarwood