Calera honors George Drake’s newborn son

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

CALERA – “In this family, no one walks alone.” Those were the words plastered across the shirts of both Calera and Shelby County basketball players as they took the court on Friday, Nov. 15, at Calera High School representing more than themselves.

Underneath that phrase, a hashtag saying #JaxonsJourney to honor the difficult path Calera head coach George Drake’s son Jaxon has faced since being born. Born with facial paralysis from a rare neurological condition known as Moebius Syndrome, Jaxon has battled several surgeries to try and get his body the proper nutrients they need.

And while the Wildcats of Shelby County and Calera were both competing for a win on Friday night, both were playing with pride for a newborn named Jaxon.

In the double header of games, all put on a show with something extra to play for, which led to the Shelby County girls to picking up a 74-59 victory and the Calera boys to picking up a dominant 83-35 victory for their head coach.

In the boys’ game, the Eagles got points from 12 different players and got double digit points from four different players to pick up the strong win.

Calera put up at least 17 points in every quarter, including 23 in the first quarter and 25 in the third quarter to account for 48 of its 83 points. With a combined 41 points in the first half, the Eagles took a 41-19 lead into the halftime break and never looked back.

That lead was extended to 66-21 at the end of the third quarter after 25 points from the Eagles and just two from the Wildcats. Calera went on to close the game out with a 17-14 final quarter to complete the win.

Calera was led by Keshawn Haynes with 12 points, while Isaiah Green and Rodgriguez Smith each added 11 points. Behind that Jordan Eggleston added 10 points.

Shelby County was led by Larz Belfonz with 11 points, while Ryan Straate had nine points.

In the girls’ game, Shelby County took advantage of three double-figure scorers and a strong first half to pull away for the victory.

The Wildcats put up 15 points in the opening quarter behind just three scorers, but two 3-pointers from Aaliyah Cotton were the difference in a 15-9 opening quarter for Shelby County.

In the second quarter, Cotton knocked down two more 3-pointers and had eight points, while Skye Knighten-Lilly had seven points in the period to close out a 12-point quarter of her own. Behind those two scorers, the Wildcats scored 24 points, but Calera posted 19 to at least stay within striking distance with a deficit of 39-28 going into the break.

Coming out of the locker room, Maggie West got going for the Wildcats. After posting seven points in the first half, she put together 10 in the third quarter alone, while Cotton added a 4-5 mark from the free throw line to lead Shelby County to 19 more points.

Calera’s offense continued to score points as well, but not enough. The Eagles put up 13 points thanks in large part to six from Treasure Davis, who had a strong second half.

Now up 58-41, Shelby County was able to close the game with another 10-point quarter from West, which led to 17 fourth-quarter points from the Wildcats.

Calera got 12 from Davis in the quarter, but the 18 points overall from the Eagles in the final quarter wasn’t enough to overcome the large deficit.

Shelby County was led by 27 from West and 21 from Cotton, while Knighten-Lilly had 13 points. Calera was led by Davis with 22 points.