Mustangs, Tigers shine on first night of semifinals

Published 11:35 am Friday, January 5, 2024

By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Two schools claimed their spots in the championship games of the 2024 Chilton County Basketball Tournaments on Jan. 4 on night one of the semifinals.

Thorsby and Isabella high schools, who will see each other two more times this year in area play, got the night started with a close first half that saw the number one seed Mustangs hold a slim 23-22 lead at halftime.

“In the first half I thought we were a little rusty after being off for two weeks, besides practicing without any (Christmas) tournaments this year,” Isabella varsity girl’s head coach Jared Day said. “We had to get back in the groove of things … I challenged them at halftime to not let this thing get away from them, and they came out and responded well.”

Isabella sank into its defense in the third quarter allowing just three Thorsby points during the entirety of the quarter. The Rebels also missed nine consecutive free throws that kept them down by a handful of points throughout the quarter. Thorsby was 6-for-17 from the free throw line in the game.

Isabella Ballew hit a 3-pointer for the Mustangs late in the quarter to put them up eight entering the fourth quarter, 33-25.

Thorsby did cut the lead down to six with just over two minutes left in the game, but Isabella was able to withstand the pressure and stretch its lead back out for the 48-36 win.

“We just could not make shots … It is a six-point game with two minutes to go, and if we make half of those free throws or layups it is a tie game, but it is one of those games where the final score did not reflect how tight the game was,” Thorsby varsity girl’s head coach Kris Wood said. “I am proud of our girls, and as far as our intensity, it was our most complete game all year. We are not disappointed, and we came in knowing they were a good team and it would take a really good game for us to beat them.”

Brinley Giambrone led the Rebels in scoring with 12 points, followed by Makinley Turner with 10 and Ava Robinson with eight points.

Isabella’s leading scorers were Amelia Fjeldstad with 19 points, followed by Amelia Ballew with 12 points.

“This is the third time in a row they will have a chance to (win the county tournament). Lost a close one (in 2022), and then we pretty much got embarrassed last year and did not play real well, and of course I am going to bring that up (to them),” Day said. “We want to go out and give it our best shot, and remember what happened last year and know we are a lot better team than that. We are going to do our best to get a win.”

Isabella will play the winner of the second semifinal on Jan. 5 between Maplesville and Chilton County high schools. The varsity girl’s tournament championship game is on Jan. 6 at 2 p.m.

The number one and four seeds Thorsby and Chilton County faced off in the first semifinal of the varsity boys’ tournament. The Tigers had their way with the Rebels from the tip and powered to a 59-23 win to book their spot in the championship game.

A slow first quarter saw CCHS lead 7-4 after the opening frame. Their offense picked up in the second quarter doubling their scoring output, but their defense remained firm holding the Rebels to five points in the second quarter. Justin Godwin hit a twisting layup as time expired before halftime to send the Tigers into the break up 21-9.

CCHS was led by D.J. Caffey with 20 points, six rebounds and four steals, followed by Godwin with nine points and 10 rebounds.

The Tigers stretched their lead out in the second half holding a 38-16 advantage after the third quarter. After a breakaway dunk by Bradin Yates, and two 3-pointers by Caffey, CCHS built its largest lead of the game at 48-21 midway through the final frame to put the game away.

CCHS will play the winner of the Maplesville and Jemison semifinal on Jan. 5, a matchup between the two and three seeds to see who will join the Tigers on Jan. 6 at 3:30 p.m. in the varsity boy’s tournament final.