Calera wins over area foe Chilton County one day after beating Shelby County

Published 4:29 pm Monday, January 22, 2024

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

CALERA – The Calera Eagles are flying high after earning wins on back-to-back nights at Calera High School.

First, the Eagles used the momentum from a 59-23 senior night win over the Shelby County Wildcats on Friday, Jan. 19 to beat the Chilton County Tigers 66-59 on Saturday, Jan. 20 for their first area win of the year.

The Eagles put an earlier road loss against the Tigers in their rearview mirror and prevailed in a back-and-forth overtime battle to claim the area play victory.

Calera got the better of Chilton County in the early minutes thanks to a balanced scoring effort that led to 16 first-quarter points.

That was enough to take a two-possession lead into the second quarter as the Eagles led 16-12.

Gavin Blankenship led the way in the second for the Calera offense with five of his team’s 13 points, but on the other end of the court, the tide changed.

Chilton County improved while shooting the ball in the second quarter and added 18 more points before halftime, which gave the Tigers a slight 30-29 lead at the break.

After halftime, Chilton County’s defense allowed just eight points in the third quarter, which gave its offense the chance to build out a 46-37 lead going into the fourth.

However, the Eagles struck back and closed the game with their best quarter of the day.

DJ White scored six points in the final period as Calera shot well from the field and scored 18 points the rest of the way.

The Eagles held strong on the defensive end of the court, allowing just seven points in the fourth as the Tigers couldn’t finish the job from the free throw line and left the teams tied at 66 at the end of regulation.

Calera’s dominant stretch from the free throw line proved to be the difference in the extra period as the team shot 8-10 in their overtime free throws, including six from Tierren Thomas.

That let the Eagles outscore Chilton County 11-4 in overtime and walk away with the seven-point win.

Blankenship led Calera with 14 points, including four three-pointers. In addition, three more Eagles got into double-figures as Thomas had 11 points and White and Jaiden Hall scored 10 points each. Tavis Hatch also had eight points in the win.

Less than 24 hours before that, the Eagles honored their outgoing seniors with a dominant win over county foe Shelby County.

Thomas and Hall spearheaded the attack early as Thomas scored six points and Hall had five points in the first quarter.

Their scoring efforts helped Calera outpace the Wildcats early and take a 16-10 lead into the second quarter.

Thomas continued to dominate on offense by adding eight more points before halftime to take him into double-figures, and White complemented him with six points of his own.

Shelby County was held to just nine more points even though Dominic Woods put the finishing touches on a 10-point first half, and Calera led 32-19 at halftime.

The Eagles defense was even more potent in the second half and kept the Wildcats scoreless in the third quarter and allowed just one field goal in the entire half.

Calera paired that shutout effort with its best quarter of the game in the third quarter, scoring 19 points from seven different players, including five from Semaj Kembrough.

The Eagles took a 30-point lead into the fourth quarter and cruised from there, adding eight more points to their total to earn the 59-23 victory.

Thomas led the team with 14 points, all of which came in the first half. White scored 12 points, Kembrough had eight points in the second half and Hall and Darien Hamilton each scored five points.

For Shelby County, Woods led the way with 12 points.

Calera will wrap up area play with a trip to Benjamin Russell to face the Wildcats on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m.