Area champs Calera claims area crowns in boys, girls tournaments

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2004

The Calera Eagles responded to last week’s loss to Altamont by storming through the Class 2A, Area 7 tournament and claiming their eighth area title in nine years.

&uot;They don’t like losing,&uot; coach Robert Burdette said of his 27-1 Calera team. &uot;They’re not used to losing and they just don’t like losing.&uot;

The Eagles have lost only five games in the last two seasons.

After winning a string of overtime games, Calera finally fell late in the regular season, suffering its only loss at the hands of Altamont.

But Burdette’s bunch quickly regained its composure, defeating Alabama Christian to close the regular season and then knocking off Lineville and Horseshoe Bend to claim the area championship last weekend.

The Eagles began their dominance of the tournament, which they hosted, with a 77-22 rout of Horseshoe Bend on Thursday night.

Trey Russell led Calera with 15 points, six rebounds and four steals. George Drake, who was named tournament MVP, and Dusty Downs, in his first game back from injury, both scored 13 for the Eagles. Paul Delbridge added 12 points.

&uot;Having Dusty back on the court is comforting to all the other guys,&uot; Burdette said. &uot;A lot of the things he brings have given our guys more of a sense of security.&uot;

Calera rediscovered its &uot;defensive intensity&uot; in the contest, something Burdette said the team began to lose in the waning games of the regular season.

&uot;When we trap people and steal the basketball on the pass or on the dribble it really gets us going, he said. &uot;It turns into a frenzy.

&uot;There will be times when you’ll make two or three steals in a row and you can go on a run and put the game away.&uot;

Calera had built a huge lead by halftime and shutout the Generals in the third quarter of Thursday’s game.

&uot;One of the things in the last two games is we’ve found our intensity, especially

on the defensive end,&uot; Burdette said.

That intensity was also evident during the championship game against Lineville.

Lineville had beaten Vincent, 64-54, in the opening round to setup the Saturday matchup with Calera.

Drake scored a tournament-high 33 points to lead the Eagles to a 90-57 victory in the championship game.

C.J. Pearson scored 14 points and Glen Dowdell added 10 points for Calera.

The Eagles (27-1) earned a home game for the Class 2A southeast sub-regional. They will face Beulah (13-11) Friday night at 7 p.m. at Calera High School.

Calera girls basketball

Calera’s girls basketball team traveled to Lineville twice last week for the Class 2A, Area 7 tournament, coming home Friday night with an area championship.

Shanavia Dowdell eclipsed the 2000 career-point mark in the Eagles win over Horseshoe Bend on Tuesday.

The Eagles won the contest, 59-34.

Dowdell, who needed 14 points to reach 2000, scored 15 points and had nine rebounds in the win.

Jalisa Thomas had 14 points and Sherrine Allen scored nine points and added 11 rebounds for the Eagles.

Lineville earned a championship-game berth opposite the Eagles by defeating Vincent, 68-46, last Tuesday.

Calera managed only 18 points in the first half but piled up 43 after the break to secure a 61-51 win in the championship game on Friday night.

&uot;We played extremely hard the entire game,&uot; said Calera coach Scott Gafford. &uot;It was a real hostile environment in Lineville.&uot;

Dowdell again led the Eagles with 35 points, 15 rebounds, six steals and six blocked shots. Mary Anne Spivey scored five points and had 11 assists while Jalisa Thomas scored 10 points and added eight rebounds for the Eagles.

By winning the area championship, Calera (15-4) set up a home game against Randolph County (9-17) in Thursday’s Class 2A, southeast sub-regional. The winner advances to the Southeast regionals at Troy State.

&uot;Having a home game is real important for the sub-regional game,&uot; Gafford said. &uot;A lot of times it can make the difference in whether you make the regionals.&uot;

Gafford said strong play from seniors Courtney Martin, Stephanie Hill and Spivey could carry the Eagles deep into the playoffs.

&uot;I think we are playing our best basketball of the year right now,&uot; he said