OMHS girls repeat

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 13, 2004

For the second straight year, the Oak Mountain girls won the Shelby County basketball tournament, and for the second straight year senior guard Ashley Clouser was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

Both came after the Eagles (12-9) handled the host Warriors in Saturday’s championship game at Thompson High School in Alabaster.

&uot;I’m pretty tickled about the whole thing,&uot; said OMHS coach Toni Leo.

Clouser scored 19 points in the championship game, leading the Eagles to a 60-45 win.

In the Eagles’ semifinal game against Pelham she scored 13 points with five rebounds and picked up 19 points against Calera in the first round.

But Clouser got plenty of help from her teammates, like junior Anna Cramer, who came through in a clutch role in the championship game.

Cramer’s penetration in the lane and willingness to force contact were key in Oak Mountain’s victory, Leo said.

&uot;She did what she had to do,&uot; Leo said. &uot;That was the difference.&uot;

Cramer was sent to the free-throw line 22 times, and connected on 20 as she picked up four assists, four steals, six rebounds and 22 points against Thompson.

Oak Mountain, who entered the tournament as a fifth seed, got off to a slow start at the beginning of the season and were 4-7 at one point.

&uot;I felt if we could ever turn that corner of increased confidence and intensity, we could make a run,&uot; Leo said.

The Eagles’ schedule included some tough early competition, Leo said, but the poor record was more indicative of a lack of fire in Oak Mountain’s play.

So about three weeks ago, Leo turned up the heat.

&uot;We went through a solid week of real intense practice,&uot; she said. &uot;We just threw all the rules out the door and battled each other.

&uot;After that week, they’ve never been the same team. That’s when we began to win.&uot;

Oak Mountain’s win in Saturday’s championship game marked the Eagles sixth straight.

&uot;Turning up the tempo in practice made them understand what I was trying to do,&uot; Leo said. &uot;I don’t believe we are a team of individuals that bask in glory.&uot;

It’s teamwork like the Eagles displayed in the county tournament that will be necessary for the Eagles to pick up their first region win, Leo said.

When Oak Mountain lined up against some of the finest players in Shelby County, Leo matched them up with senior Catherine Spiker to &uot;make them work&uot;.

&uot;Catherine does that kind of job for me,&uot; Leo said.&uot; She is my strongest defensive player. She plays inside and outside.&uot;

Spiker also contributed on offense, scoring 14 points against Calera and eight points against Pelham.

Providing help inside with strong rebounding were Kristin Jordan and Megan Alderson, who had 21 and 16 rebounds respectively for the tournament.

Selected to the girls all-tournament team were MVP Ashley Clouser, Oak Mountain; Catherine Spiker, Oak Mountain; Anna Cramer, Oak Mountain; Tamara Williams, Thompson; Nicole Lowery, Thompson; Haley Dennis, Montevallo; Dekita Johnson, Pelham; Brittany Battle, Shelby County; Melissa Potter, Chelsea; Madison Thompson, Briarwood; and Shanavia Dowdell, Calera