CCHS headed to area championship in basketball

Published 9:12 am Thursday, February 10, 2022

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By SETH HAGAN/ Special to the Advertiser

PELHAM – The Chilton County Tigers outlasted area rival Calera on Feb. 9 in a back-and-forth battle to keep their season alive and advance to the area championship game on Feb. 11 as well as the sub-regional round of the playoffs.

The contest featured 11 lead changes, eight ties and a tense finish, but, in the end, the Tigers notched a 56-50 victory.

The first quarter had eight lead changes and two ties alone, as each team answered the other, refusing to back down. Xzayvion Childress came out swinging and notched nine points in the opening period, but Chilton’s Jakobe Worthy scored the Tigers’ last seven points to draw even with the Eagles at 15-15.

The game’s pace slowed to a crawl in the second quarter, and initially it looked as if Calera was beginning to pull away.

Cameron Coxwell’s 3-pointer gave the Eagles a 22-17 lead, and they forced the Tigers into eight turnovers in the period, but the offense stalled and they were unable to add to the lead.

That extra time was all Chilton County needed as the early opportunities they squandered turned into a 7-0 run to end the half for the Tigers, who took a 24-22 lead into the locker room.

Then, after the break, both teams caught fire.

Childress gave Calera its first two buckets, but it was Gavin Blankenship who powered the Eagles’ offense.

The sophomore guard hit three consecutive shots from beyond the arc and added a layup for good measure scoring all 11 of his points in the third quarter.

Still, the Tigers responded to each and every bucket the Eagles sank.

Jakobe Worth had an equally massive quarter, scoring 10 of his team’s 18 points to preserve a two-point advantage even though Calera took the lead back multiple times.

With the teams separated by just one possession, Chilton County’s advantage on the boards began to take a toll.

The Tigers had 11 offensive boards in the game and scored crucial baskets on both of their second opportunities in the fourth.

Chilton built a 53-46 lead and appeared to have wrested the final momentum, but missed three of four free throws that would’ve iced the game, leaving the door open for the Eagles.

Down 54-48 with less than a minute to play, Childress dribbled to the left wing looking for room to hoist a three. Using his body to create space he leaned into a desperation shot and sank what Calera fans thought to be a three to slice the deficit in half.

Instead, to the shock of the Eagles’ bench, Childress was whistled for an offensive foul on the move and the hopes of a possible four-point play to draw them within two points evaporated. Chilton County then sank their final two free throws to put the game out of reach.

Worthy led all scorers with 19 points for Chilton County.

Childress led Calera with 17 points, while Gavin Blankenship and Joe Wimberly added 11 and eight points, respectively.