Calera girls storm into regional game behind Dowdell

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Coach Scott Gafford’s Eagles got off to a slow start but rode the shoulders of sophomore Shanavia Dowdell to a 59-50 sub-regional win, earning a spot in the girls class 2A regional tournament.

Dowdell scored 26 points and had 17 rebounds in the win over Randolph County. She also had 10 steals and eight blocked shots.

The win was the eighth in a row for the Eagles, who improved their record to 16-4 and set up an opening-round matchup with Samson in the southeast regional tournament yesterday.

Results were not available at presstime.

Gafford said Dowdell will likely be a target for opposing teams in postseason play and could face increased pressure and possible double-teams.

&uot;There’s not many people in the state of Alabama that can play her by themselves,&uot; he said.

Luckily for Calera, players like freshman Jalisa Thomas have been strong down the stretch.

&uot;I think we’ve just gotten things together and we’ve gelled together now,&uot; Gafford said. &uot;We’re starting to understand what we need to do as a team.&uot;

Thomas scored 14 points to go along with nine rebounds and four steals in the sub-regional win.

&uot;One of the keys to the game was the fact that Jalisa Thomas played so well,&uot; Gafford said. &uot;She’s normally a pretty good shooter, especially when she’s open, and she’s starting to be able to put the ball on the floor and also hit the outside jumpshot.&uot;

The winner of yesterday’s quarterfinal game will advance to the semifinal to play the winner of the Highland Home-Lineville game on Friday at 3:40 p.m. at Troy State University.

The winner of the southeast regional tournament will earn a trip to the girls Class 2A Final Four at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center