Calera’s wakeup call

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Waking up for Friday’s Southwest Regional tournament final wasn’t hard for Scott Gafford.

The Calera girls basketball coach was up several times before the Eagles’ 9 a.m. tipoff, mostly, he said, with nightmares about opponent R.C. Hatch.

His players, on the other hand, were a different story.

&uot;It was hard for everyone in my room to get up,&uot; said junior center Shanavia Dowdell. &uot;I had to turn on the lights, open the shades and everything. I even turned on the air conditioner to make them get up.&uot;

Dowdell, who was used to early morning games from summer basketball, said she had no problems with the early start.

She backed it up on the court, scoring 11 of her team’s 13 points in the first quarter as the Lady Eagles as a whole got off to a slow start, trailing the Bobcats 16-13 at the end of the first period.

If it took Dowdell’s teammates some time to wake up, they did so in the third quarter, outscoring R.C. Hatch 20-9 on the way to a 61-51 victory at the University of South Alabama’s Mitchell Center in Mobile.

Dowdell finished with 36 points and 16 rebounds in the title game, before fouling out with under three minutes to play. She was named tournament MVP.

But it was the play of Calera’s two young guards that had the biggest impact, Gafford said.

&uot;That was the difference between us winning the game and losing the game.&uot;

Freshman Quatesha Horton had 13 points, five steals, four rebounds and three assists while sophomore Jalisa Thomas added eight points.

With the win, Calera earned a trip to this week’s Final Four at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex.

They faced Mars Hill yesterday (results were unavailable at presstime). The 2A girls state title game is Thursday at 4 p.m