Quanetria Bolton read it and was determined with her Anniston teammates not to have that happen.
In the end, the Lady Bulldogs’ determination was just too much for Saks’ game plan. Behind a near triple-double by Bolton, Anniston swamped the Wildcats 50-19 Wednesday in the Calhoun County Tournament at Pete Mathews Coliseum.
“That was pretty much our motivation for the week,” Bolton said, breaking into a wide smile even before the question was finished being asked. “We saw it — the whole team saw it — so we took that and made that our energy to come out and play. I know (Lively) feels that way, but we had to come out and prove our point.”
Taking coach Eddie Bullock’s advice to be “that dominant player she can be,” Bolton outscored the Wildcats by herself with 20 points. She also had 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Alabama already has scouted the talented junior and South Carolina is scheduled to come in next week.
The Lady Bulldogs (24-2) took control of this one early.
Dominating inside, they scored the game’s first six points and opened a 13-3 lead in the first quarter. Five of the six buckets they scored in the quarter were helped by offensive rebounds. Bolton had the last two putbacks.
“There wasn’t a disconnect; we do match up with them,” Lively said. “I think the beginning of the game it showed that we could outplay them. I think we gave them a lot of easy baskets.
“They were exactly what I thought and that was part of our game plan, but to give them only one shot at it. They would miss their first shot but get offensive rebound after offensive rebound, and it’s hard to stop that. Our game plan was to give them only one shot, but when we played such great defense and then forgot to box out, that’s what broke us down at the beginning.”
The eighth-seeded Wildcats (7-11) turned up their defensive intensity in the second quarter and cut into Anniston’s lead, but when Lively called a timeout with 2:43 left in the half, it was Anniston that took advantage.
It let Bullock insert his full-court press and the Bulldogs scored the last 11 points of the half to grab a 29-11 lead at the break.
“I try to teach them when you have an opportunity to put a team away, you need to take advantage of it because it doesn’t always come,” Bullock said. “I’ve lost up here in the regionals three times and in the county tournament twice in situations we had an opportunity to put a team away and we didn’t do it and it came back to bite us.
“I don’t take anybody for granted. I don’t look at records. I don’t look at rankings. What I try to teach my players is when they have an opportunity to put a team away whether they are good or not so good, you’d better take advantage of it. I only know one player who was able to turn it on and turn it off when they wanted to and that’s Michael Jordan. Everybody else is not a Michael Jordan; they’re average.”
After that, it seemed a matter of how wide the Lady Bulldogs wanted the margin.
It was only the turning of a running clock that kept them from scoring in eight minutes that were the fourth quarter — and that didn’t sit well with Bullock.
“This team right here only have three players back from last year, one starter, and nobody pretty much has given us a chance to win and we have a lot of areas we have to improve in and there were several times we took off playing defense,” Bullock said. “I’m just trying to get better, here in the county tournament trying to get better.
“Defensively we must get better at denying the basketball and our help-side defense. That is a goal of mine before the end of the season.”
With the win, the Lady Bulldogs advance to play No. 5 White Plains Friday at 4 p.m.
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.