Calera too much for rival Shelby County

Calera High School forward Ronnie Clark defends Shelby County guard Justis Martin in the Eagles' 80-57 win over the Wildcats on Nov. 29. (Reporter Photo /Wesley Hallman)

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

COLUMBIANA — Opponents of the Calera High School boys’ basketball team have their hands full with senior guard Deondre Haynes.

When junior swing man Ronnie Clark and junior post player Titus Adams are also playing their best, Eagles’ foes are pretty much defenseless.

Shelby County learned that lesson the hard way in a 80-57 loss to rival Calera in front of a packed house Nov. 29 at Charles Dickinson Gymnasium.

Haynes was his usual self with his slashing drives to the basket, long-range bombs and rim-rattling dunks on his way to 15 points in the win.

At the same time Clark was on fire from 3-point range and Adams was dominant inside against the Wildcats, who had few answers defensively. Clark led the Eagles  (4-1) with 28 points, while Adams chipped in 13 points.

“We’ve got guys that can score,” said Calera coach Robert Burdette.

Burdette knows what he’s got in his starting lineup with four returning starters. He’s looking for depth off the bench.

“We’ve got to find guys number six, seven or eight,” Burdette said. “We’ll even play nine or 10 if we can.”

Burdette had to be pleased with eight players contributing points in the victory. Jordan Bishop added nine points. Jeremy Hyde finished with eight points. Howard Morris chipped in three points. J.R. Seay and Henry Davis contributed two points each.

Tyler Madison led Shelby County with a game-high 35 points in the loss.

First-year Shelby County coach Torri Brown said Madison will need to carry the inexperienced Wildcats.

“He’s one of the few veterans we have,” Brown said. “We’re glad to have him on our team. He does a lot of good things for us.”

Denzel Washington added seven points. Brandon McKinney chipped in six points. James Gayden finished with four points. Josh Pennington contributed three points and Justis Martin registered two points.

Madison gave the Wildcats their only lead in the game, 3-0, following his 3-pointer in the opening minute.

Calera responded with a 25-4 run, which included back-to-back 3-pointers by Clark, to end the first quarter.

The Eagles extended their lead to as many as 23 points in the second quarter. A layup by Haynes with 24.3 seconds remaining in the first half gave Calera a 44-21 advantage before Madison drained three free throws after being fouled on a shot at the buzzer from near midcourt.

Clark led Calera with 18 points at halftime. Haynes contributed 12 points in the opening half. Madison led Shelby County with 18 points at the break.

The Wildcats opened the third quarter with a 4-0 run, but the Eagles kept their lead in double digits the rest of the game. Haynes drained a 3-pointer with less than 30 seconds remaining in the quarter to give Calera a 68-49 lead.

Shelby County opened the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Pennington. Brown said he was glad to see his team keep fighting despite the deficit.

“I’m proud of our guys for hanging in there and fighting,” Brown said. “Our kids played really hard.”

Haynes verbally committed to play basketball at Tennessee Tech University but didn’t sign a national letter-of-intent during the NCAA early signing period. Tennessee Tech assistant coach Russ Willemsen was in the gym for the game against Shelby County.

Haynes said he plans to sign in the late signing period in April.