Stay on guard throughout the tournament
by Nick Birdsong
Star sports writer
Jan 16, 2011 | 2297 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Traditional basketball wisdom suggests that you win with big and talented post players.

Power forwards and centers are typically taller than their counterparts in the backcourt and usually take high percentage shots on offense. On defense, they can be gamechangers using their height and reach to block or alter the shot of anyone who might dare challenge them in the lane.

But perimeter players are just flat-out fun to watch.

They’re fleet-of-foot and will often wow you with their ball handling ability, with an aptly timed behind-the-back or between-the-legs dribble as a defender reaches for a steal.

This year’s version of the Calhoun County basketball tournament is set to feature plenty of good guard play.

Ladies first.

If you like point guards, you may want to catch Saks’s Addesha Collins and Jacksonville’s Lacey Buchanon. They are two of the best Northeast Alabama has to offer.

With Collins at 5-foot-3 and Buchanon at 5-foot even, it means they’re packing a lot of talent in a couple of small packages.

Collins was the MVP of last year’s County tournament, pouring in 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists to lead the Lady Wildcats to their first ever county tournament title. Buchanon suffered an injury early in her sophomore outing at the county tournament but was named to the all-tournament team. She was selected to The Star’s all-county squad after averaging 18 points a game.

Both are nice off the dribble. But they’ve also got deftly accurate jumpers. So, if you’re thinking about playing off them, you’d want to think again.

The two could be headed for a collision in the semifinals Friday afternoon if their teams make it through the first two rounds of play.

No. 3 Jacksonville (11-6) will take on No. 14 Ohatchee in its first-round match Monday at 6 p.m. Saks, seeded second, faces No. 15 Faith Christian at 7 p.m Tuesday night in its first-round matchup.

If you like shooters, check out Anniston’s Tiakeefah Huguley when the Lady Bulldogs take to the court Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m. after a first-round bye. She made her splash last season as a sophomore when she scored 19 points against D.A.R. in the Bulldogs 45-42 loss in the Northeast Regional Final. This season, She’s close to unstoppable once she gets cooking and looks poised to take Anniston (17-2) to the state Final 48 for the second time in three seasons, having gunned the Lady Bulldogs to a No. 1 seed and a 17-2 record.

No. 6 Jacksonville Christian’s Katy Miller is one to watch, as well. She’s averaging 23 points per game and has the Lady Thunder with the best record in the tournament at 17-1. Her team faces No. 11 Oxford Monday at noon.

The ‘fellas aren’t lacking in the guard department either.

Anniston sharpshooter Jabrielle Snodgress and Faith Christian’s Zach Owens were two of just 24 players in the state selected to play in the annual North-South game after stellar junior seasons. If you don’t recall Snodgress was the MVP of the Class 4A, Area 9 tournament and Owens dropped a mean 41 points in the Lions’ first-round win against Weaver last year.

Their back court mates, Anniston’s Lasshedrick Edmondson and Faith’s Cole Parks, should also give defenses fits.

The top-seeded Bulldogs won’t hit the hardwood until 5:30 p.m. on Monday. Owens, who averages nearly 22 points a game, and the rest of the eleventh-seeded Lions will try to upset No. 6 White Plains in a rematch of a regular season contest won by the Wildcats.

There are familiar veterans such as Saks’s Caleb Duke, an Alabama-Huntsville commit, Piedmont’s Jamaal Johnson, a JSU football commit, and Noah Willis, all of who will almost surely put on a display of athleticism to marvel at.

The youth movement is in full effect as well with great youngsters such as Weaver freshman Chris English (14 ppg) and Oxford sophomore Justin Lawler. Lawler (11 ppg) will be making his third appearance in the County tournament. They could be the headliners at the county tournament for at least the next couple seasons.

The tried and true principle of playing the game from the inside out still holds true but don’t be ashamed if you get caught star-gazing out beyond the paint at the county tournament.

They’ll be a lot worth watching out there.

Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star.
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Stay on guard throughout the tournament by Nick Birdsong
Star sports writer

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