Shelby County headed to 4th straight Sweet 16

By SETH HAGAN | Special to the Reporter

COLUMBIANA – Great starts to both halves allowed the Shelby County Wildcats to control the game from the start and take their home sub-regional matchup from Demopolis 62-37 on Monday, Feb 10, to advance to the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive year.

The Wildcats’ defensive game plan was nearly perfect as only one member of the Tigers hit double digits on the night.

“We wanted to slow (Aniya Johnson) down and (ShaCorie Cockrell) is a good shooter,” said Shelby County head coach Ashley Phillips. “(Johnson) got in the paint on us a good bit, but that’s what good players do. Thankfully we were able to limit everyone else.”

Shelby County (18-4, 7-1) hit three big shots from long range to start the game, while holding the Tigers to just two baskets. Maggie West hit two threes, while Skye Knighten-Lilly also added six to give the Wildcats a quick 15-4 lead.

Demopolis (14-15, 3-3) caught its rhythm in the second quarter, getting baskets from four of their players, but stops continued to elude the Tigers.

Knighten-Lilly and Nataley Whitner combined for 12 of Shelby County’s 14 points, as the Wildcats maintained their lead going into halftime at 28-19.

The Wildcats came out of the gate even hotter the second time around, drilling four more from beyond the arc. West led the way with 13 of her 20 points in the third, as Shelby County held Demopolis to two baskets again to stretch the lead to 46-24.

It was Knighten-Lilly’s best quarter as well thanks to eight of her game-high 23 points.

“This is a seasoned senior team, four seniors start and they’ve all scored over a thousand points in their careers,” Phillips said. “I feel good about our chances because when you have experience, good things will happen.”

Another one of those seniors, Aaliyah Cotton, took the mantle in the fourth quarter scoring seven of her nine points to lock up the postseason win and a spot in the Sweet 16.