Fourth time charm

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Calera coach Robert Burdette knew what to expect for Friday’s Southwest Regional tournament final in Mobile.

When the third-ranked Eagles tipped off against the Altamont Knights, it marked the fourth meeting between the schools this season.

&uot;When you play somebody four times, you have an idea of what they can and can not do,&uot; Burdette said. &uot;We tried to take away some of the things that they do well. They just never got any kind of rhythm going offensively.&uot;

Calera jumped out to a 13-point halftime lead before outscoring Altamont 24-9 in the third period. The Eagles then coasted to an 80-61 victory and a berth in this week’s Final Four at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

Tournament MVP George Drake was spectacular in the final, tying a regional tournament record with 40 points. He also pulled down 15 rebounds to go along with five assists, four steals and a blocked shot.

&uot;He just dominated the basketball game,&uot; Burdette said of Drake. &uot;He made jump shots, he made free-throws, he made drives to the basket, he rebounded the basketball.

&uot;And when he does that, as an opposing player or coach you have to pick your poison, whether you want him making 3s, making free throws or you want him there under the basket with the ball.&uot;

Paul Delbridge had 11 points, eight rebounds and two steals for Calera. Trey Russell had six points, seven assists and five steals.

T.J. Green added eight points and Jason Adams seven.

With the win, Calera earned a trip to this week’s Final Four.

They faced Pickens County yesterday (results were unavailable at presstime). The 2A boys state title game is Thursday at 6 p.m.

Calera has gone on 21-1 stretch since starting the season at 8-4. The Eagles have made the Final Four in nine of the past 10 seasons