Calhoun County basketball: Pleasant Valley girls rally to beat Saks in OT
by Chris Brown
Jan 21, 2014 | 2175 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pleasant Valley's Tiffany Williams (1) and Saks' Maiya Northard (12) chase the ball. (Photo by Bill Wilson)
Pleasant Valley's Tiffany Williams (1) and Saks' Maiya Northard (12) chase the ball. (Photo by Bill Wilson)
JACKSONVILLE -- Pleasant Valley High coach Jeremy Wallace preached to his players at halftime to play their game and finish what they have started. The Raiders took what their coach was saying to heart, overcoming a 14-point deficit to defeat the Saks Wildcats 59-56 in overtime Tuesday night.

The win moved Pleasant Valley into the Calhoun County Tournament quarterfinals at Jacksonville State. The Raiders (9-11) will face Oxford on Thursday at 7 p.m.

“Everything that went wrong did in the first half, but the girls refocused at halftime. I’m so proud of them. They deserved it after working so hard,” said Wallace. “We’ve had problems all year starting out a little slow, but once they settle down, they’re fun to watch.”

Pleasant Valley was down 20-11 after the first quarter, and then 33-19 at halftime before the Raiders shut down Saks’ offense, and turned up their own.

“Coach told us at halftime that we can play better,” Bailey Turner said.

Aleigh Brannon finished with a game-high 15 points, but Bailey Turner added a much-needed double-double -- 14 points and 16 rebounds. “She’s a rock down low,” Wallace said. “She’s the defensive leader for us, and communicates well. Since we are young, we need that leadership.”

Added Turner: “I don’t usually pull down double digits, most of the time I average six or seven.”

McKinley Parris also chipped in with her own double-double too with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Tiffany Williams finished with 12 points.

One of the main factors in Pleasant Valley’s victory Saks was making 21 free throws, but none more important than Parris’ two with 20 seconds remaining.

Parris also made two free throws to tie the game 50-50 with 26.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

Pleasant Valley did not have its first lead until Williams sank a 3-point basket on the Raiders’ first possession of overtime.

“Heading into overtime, I told them to play their game,” said Wallace. “We came back in the second half, and played our ball. If we play our ball, we are hard to beat.”

For Saks, Daja Johnson led in scoring with 13 points. She added seven assists. Both Aliyan Simmons and Miracle Dennard added 10 points. Dennard also dished out seven assists and had five steals.

With this victory, Wallace knows it means more than just advancing in the Calhoun County Tournament.

“I’ll tell you, it’s big for the girls’ program. We’ve been working towards growing and learning how to play the game, and really finishing a ball game—playing four quarters.”

By overcoming the adversity throughout the game, Turner believes the Raiders know they can come back in the future.

“We know we can come back from being down,” she said.
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