Prep basketball: Jacksonville roars into 4A, Area 11 championship game
by Brandon Miller
Feb 06, 2014 | 2496 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jacksonville's Jasmine Easley (3) fights for a loose ball with Alexandria's Kaitlyn Brown (10). (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Jacksonville's Jasmine Easley (3) fights for a loose ball with Alexandria's Kaitlyn Brown (10). (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
JACKSONVILLE – Gathered in their locker room after beating rival Alexandria, the first thing Jacksonville High’s players talked about was the difference between last year and this year.

The 63-27 win Thursday put the Golden Eagles into Saturday's Class 4A, Area 11 championship game and clinched a spot in next week’s sub-regional round. Jacksonville coach Ryan Chambless said it’s a “much better feeling” than last year when his team dropped its area tournament opener to Hokes Bluff, ending its season.

“The girls really worked hard, and they’ve earned every bit of it this year,” Chambless said. “I’m proud of them and proud of the way they scrapped. We’re really happy to get a win today and play at least two more.”

Jacksonville (19-7) cruised to the win Thursday night, using an 18-0 run during the first and second quarters and a 16-0 run during the third and fourth to cruise to the win. The Golden Eagles did it with defensive pressure.

Jacksonville had 23 steals, including 10 by Angel Kidd and four by Virginia Poe, while playing a strong full-court press.

“I thought we started out pretty good, and I thought we pressured well, but we got a bit lazy and started fouling them,” Chambless said. “But, for the most part, I thought we pressed well and run the floor well. We got a lot of layups running the floor.”

Dasia Kirksey led the way for Jacksonville, scoring 18 points and having 11 rebounds. Kidd added 18 points. Poe finished with 15 points, and Sierra Stone had six points and five rebounds.

Alexandria was led by Ariel Tuck’s 10 points and seven rebounds. Makai Andrews added six points and five rebounds, and Kaitlyn Brown had a team-high 11 rebounds.

Next comes a matchup with Hokes Bluff, the team that ended Jacksonville’s season a year ago. A win over would secure the Golden Eagles’ first area championship since 2008.

“The biggest thing (about winning the area tournament) is it gives you home-court advantage (in the sub-regional), and I feel like we play better at home,” Chambless said.

The winner will host the runner-up from Class 4A, Area 10 next Thursday. The loser will face the winner of Area 10 on the road.

“When you get to this stage of the game you have to come ready to play every game or it could be your last one,” Chambless said. “It doesn’t matter who the opponent is you have to play well and play to win.”

Hokes Bluff 51, Cherokee County 26: Defending Area 11 champion Cherokee County fell to the team it beat for the championship a year ago.

Hokes Bluff took a 30-14 lead into halftime and limited Cherokee County to three points in the third quarter.

“When you have to guard all five of us, it makes it more difficult,” Hokes Bluff coach Jason Shields said. “If we can hold someone under 40 we feel like we can score more than 40. Defense is where it all starts.”

Hokes Bluff was led by Kendall Johnson, who finished with 13 points. Hannah Evans added 11 points, and Carly Shields scored 10.

Jennie Price led Cherokee County with seven points. Raven Williams added six.

Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star.
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