Briarwood’s girls headed to Regionals for first time in 7 years

Published 11:16 pm Monday, February 11, 2019

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

SYLACAUGA – The Briarwood girls basketball team hasn’t advanced past the sub-regional round of the playoffs since 2011, but on Monday, Feb. 11, that all changed in head coach Lorie Kerley’s first year at the helm.

It’s been talked about a lot this year, but the Lions have been playing for more than themselves this season, honoring former head coach Jim Brown, who passed away last summer.

At the beginning of the season, the team dedicated the 2018-19 season to Brown, and on Monday night, the Lions undoubtedly made him proud with a dominant 59-23 victory to not just claim a spot in the Sweet 16 for the first time in seven years, but do so in emphatic fashion.

It’s a season that will go down as one of the more historic in Briarwood’s history, and wouldn’t have been possible without an incredible coaching job from Kerley, as well as the correct attitude from the players to buy in and give everything they have each night they step on the court.

All of that seemed to culminate into one special night against Sylacauga to summarize the entire season.

And like the majority of the season, it started with defense for Briarwood.

The Lions unbelievable defensive effort saw them give up no more than eight points in any of the four quarters, starting with just two points in the opening period.

While Briarwood got off to a slow start offensively, scoring just nine points in the first quarter, the Lions did more than enough to take a strong early lead at 9-2 moving into the second quarter.

That’s when the offense started to click.

The defense gave up just two more field goals and six points in the quarter, bringing Sylacauga’s total baskets made in the first half to three field goals, as well as a 1-5 mark from the free throw line.

Briarwood capitalized on the defensive effort with 15 second-quarter points. The Lions used four made field goals and a 6-10 mark from the free throw line to really open up the scoring and take a 24-8 lead at the halftime break.

At that point, it looked like Sylacauga was going to have trouble scoring 24 points, much less overcoming the 16-point deficit to pass that number.

As it turned out, the Lions could have gone the rest of the game without scoring and still won by a final of 24-23, but instead, their offense was just getting heated up.

Thanks to five more field goals, including six points from Marylane Graham, Briarwood was able to post 15 points for the second period in a row. The Lions also made five more free throws in the quarter as part of that total.

While Sylacauga had its best offensive quarter of the game, the Aggies only put up eight points in the frame, showing how suffocating Briarwood’s defense was.

By the end of the quarter, the Lions had extended their lead to 39-16 with one period separating them from a berth in the Sweet 16.

In the final quarter, Briarwood sensed what was coming and let that fuel an exciting spurt both offensively and defensively, as the Lions’ got an extra jolt of energy.

Seven different players scored at least one field goal in the quarter, including six points from Alex Smith and four from Jalen Hunter, to total a game-high 20 points, while the defense closed out the 36-point victory by allowing just seven more points.

Graham led Briarwood with 15 points thanks to six made field goals and a 3-6 mark from the free throw line. Maddie Vaughn also finished in double figures with 10 points thanks to two 3-pointers and two jumpers, while Hunter added nine points, seven of which came in the second half.

Briarwood will now take on Charles Henderson at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery on Saturday, Feb. 16, at either 9 a.m. or noon.