Calera honors Peyton Abernathy in win against Pelham

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

PELHAM – When Peyton Abernathy was adopted by the Calera Eagles’ basketball team on Dec. 23, 2019, it was unclear how long he had left in the midst of a battle against leukemia, but it was known that he was a member of his hometown’s basketball team no matter where he was.

On Tuesday, Jan. 14, two days after Abernathy died from the terrible disease, leaving a hole in the community, he still stepped foot on the floor as the Eagles squared off against area foe Pelham through the footsteps of each Calera player.

Dressed in orange socks, a little bit of Abernathy was in each of the Eagles’ players throughout the night, and in fitting fashion, they went on to pick up a 62-53 area victory to improve to 13-5 overall and 2-1 in area play.

It was a true team effort from the Eagles, as each player played with extra motivation and for something bigger than themselves, which led to eight different players scoring in the game, including six with six or more points.

Early in the game, however, Pelham came ready to match Calera’s effort as both teams posted 15 points in the opening quarter of action. The Eagles did so with a balanced effort featuring six different scorers in the period, while the Panthers got a strong period from Kendan Maddox with seven points and Xavier Lankford with four points.

In the second quarter, those two Pelham players passed the torch to Blake Floyd, who continued an impressive season by going a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line to post nine points in the period.

That led to 10 more points for the Panthers, but Calera got a 3-pointer from Keshawn Haynes that played a key in the Eagles scoring 13 points to take a three-point advantage into the half.

During the break, both teams seemed to make adjustments on the offensive end, which led to a compelling third quarter of scoring.

Calera had its most balanced period of the game in the third with six different players scoring, including four with at least three points to help the Eagles post a game-high 18 points in the frame.

And while Pelham couldn’t match that, the Panthers had one of their best offensive quarters of the game as well with 14 points to stay within striking distance heading to the final quarter of the game.

Up 46-39 at the beginning of the fourth, the Eagles were looking to ice the game with ball control and free throws. They did a good job of keeping it away from Pelham to limit the Panthers’ offensive possessions, but their free throw shooting wasn’t as strong as it has been at times.

Calera made just seven of its 15 from the line in the period, but luckily for the Eagles, Duke Chambers saved his best quarter for last with a seven-point period.

That played a key role in the Eagles posting 16 points in the period. Pelham put together a good effort to attempt the comeback, but the Panthers put up 14 points for the second period in a row, as they ran out of time late due to Calera’s game plan.

Chambers ended up leading the Eagles with 13 points, while Jordan Eggleston and Haynes each added 10 points.

Pelham only had four players score, but all four finished the game in double figures. Floyd led the way with 17 points, including a 9-9 mark from the free throw line. Maddox added 13 points, while Roy Gonzalez added 12 and Lankford 11.