Tigers win first girls 6A area title since 2018 over Calera

Published 11:48 am Friday, February 10, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

Chilton County High School’s varsity girl’s basketball team brought home the school’s first girl’s AHSAA Class 6A area title since 2018 on Feb. 9. The Tigers compiled a comeback for a 63-54 win over Calera High School, and sophomore guard Iasia Anderson put another chapter into her legacy at CCHS.

The Tigers won the opening tipoff, and Anderson glided in for a layup to put CCHS up in under five seconds. Calera responded with seven unanswered points and the Tigers’ Trinity Pulliam picked up her third foul with one minute left in the first quarter. Calera led 11-7 after the opening frame.

This was the third matchup between the two schools this season, and the Tigers swept the series 2-0 — 67-53 on Jan. 17 and 59-34 on Jan. 24. The old saying “It is hard to beat a team twice,” much less three times, was showing true.

“Calera came out and left everything on the floor,” CCHS coach Rickey Pulliam said.

The Tigers’ Ivyonna Varner came out hot in the second quarter knocking down two 3-pointers. Varner posted 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting including three 3-pointers. She added three steals and assists.

Anderson followed with a 3-pointer of her own to give CCHS a 21-20 lead with three minutes left till halftime.

That would be the final time the Tiger led until late in the fourth quarter.

Calera ended the quarter on a 10-2 run while Pulliam sat with her three fouls and took a 30-23 lead into halftime.

CCHS got it within one point in the third quarter, but Pulliam picked up her fourth foul and went back out of the game. Calera still held the lead 44-40 going into the fourth quarter.

Tyonna Booker pulled down 11 rebounds to help on the boards in Pulliam’s absence.

Pulliam returned to start the fourth quarter but picked up her fifth foul shortly after the quarter started. Pulliam had 11 points and six rebounds and blocks.

“We called a timeout and told Iasia ‘Take the game over,’” Pulliam said. “The rest was history from there.”

Anderson came out of the timeout and hit a 3-pointer to cut the Calera lead to 49-44 and followed that up with four free throws to cut it to a one-point game.

Anderson found Varner in the corner for another 3-pointer with four minutes left to give the Tigers their first lead since the second quarter at 51-50.

“(Iasia) is a winner, and that was an awesome performance,” Pulliam said.

Anderson continued to make tough shots down the stretch with another 3-pointer and an offensive rebound and put back that bloomed the Tigers lead to eight points.

CCHS managed the foul game the last two minutes to hold on and complete the comeback.

Anderson’s final totals gave her a quadruple-double with 23 points, 16 rebounds, 11 steals and 10 assists.

“That was Iasia’s best moment, and she said she was ready to go do it,” Pulliam said. “That was unbelievable, and her performance … I do not have too many words to describe what she just put on out there, but this goes back to her work ethic.”

The win gave CCHS their first girl’s area tournament title in Class 6A since 2018, and it comes in Pulliam’s first year leading the program.

“I think it is big for the school and big for the program,” Pulliam said. “When I came up here we wanted to build a program that could win … I think this is a great thing for Chilton County High School, and I hope we are not done yet.”

Varner, Pulliam and Anderson were all named to the area all-tournament team, and Anderson was named the MVP of the tournament. CCHS hosts Briarwood High School in the subregional round on Feb. 13 at 6 p.m.