CCHS bests Isabella for third-straight county title
Published 9:51 am Tuesday, January 9, 2024
By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor
It was two familiar foes in the 2024 Chilton County Varsity Girls’ Basketball Tournament final as Chilton County and Isabella high schools faced off for the title for the third-straight year. The result on Jan. 6 was the same as the previous two years, as the Tigers took the county championship 56-43 over the Mustangs.
Tournament MVP Ishunti Brown’s double-double of 20 points and 15 rebounds led Chilton County in the final. She added five steals to her 9-for-13 shooting effort.
“We are getting to that place where the girls are getting into a feel and a groove,” CCHS assistant coach Kelvin Sterling said. “Coming into the county tournament, we were just trying to create our identity and trying to get some of our younger players ready to go, and now coming out of it, players are starting to get their games together.”
Isabella started the final on fire as Lexi Higgins knocked down four 3-pointers in the first quarter to jump out to an early 14-2 lead, but CCHS fought back to trail by two, 15-13, after the first quarter. Higgins led Isabella in scoring with 20 points.
In the second quarter, the Tigers outscored the Mustangs by nine points to jump out to a 29-22 lead at halftime.
“We came out on fire, and our whole game plan was to try to get them out of what they do defensively with their press and zone stuff,” Isabella head coach Jared Day said. “We handled the press to start, and Higgins was on fire from the start and that part worked. Then it was just basketball, teams made runs and it was back and forth, and we had a few turnovers that gave them some easy baskets, and we had just a few too many unforced turnovers.”
The Tigers carried their momentum over into the second half starting with a 9-1 run to open the half. However, it was Isabella’s turn to fight back and Higgins knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the lead to nine points with just over a minute left in the quarter.
Day said the short bench, and the extended break around Christmas, both contributed to some tired legs late in the game that added more adversity to the Mustangs’ comeback bid.
“Overall, their effort was amazing. The girls were determined to win the game, and from an effort standpoint, they did everything they could,” Day said. “I was proud of them, and I told them after the game it was one of the most fun times I have had coaching, and it does not define what we are trying accomplish in our season, because it has no effect on us as far as area play and playoffs. I do think it will make us better down the road to have played against a good team like that, and seeing some things we do not normally see in our regular season.”
Amelia Fjeldstad and Makayla Logan each contributed 10 points for the Mustangs in the final.
Higgins’ final 3-pointer of the game came in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to seven points, but a layup from Chilton County’s Iasia Anderson right after nullified the rest of the comeback attempt. Anderson had 12 points, eight assists, seven steals and six rebounds.
Tyeshia Williams had a double-double in the final going for 15 points and 18 rebounds, and also contributed eight assists and eight blocks.
Sterling said that head coach Rickey Pulliam was adamant with the team about the importance of the county tournament, and what it means to the schools to win it.
“Everybody loves the county tournament here in Chilton County … Granted we are the bigger school in the tournament, but you still have to play the game,” Sterling said. “We were just as excited to see the fight we had to give with Isabella, which I believe is poised for a run in Class 2A. They are a really good team, and you just want to play well against teams like that. Hopefully, this will keep us going and point us in the right direction as we get ready for area play.”
Both of the team’s post-county tournament schedules get underway on Jan. 9, with Chilton County hosting Calera High School at 6 p.m., and Isabella hosting Central of Coosa County High School at 5:30 p.m.
2024 All-County Tournament Team
Ishunti Brown, Chilton County High School (MVP)
Iasia Anderson, Chilton County High School
Tyeshia Williams, Chilton County High School
Amelia Fjeldstad, Isabella High School
Lexi Higgins, Isabella High School
Kamylia Talley, Maplesville High School
Takeira Bailey, Maplesville High School
Makinley Turner, Thorsby High School
Brooklyn Reeser, Thorsby High School
Zariyah Johnson, Jemison High School
Gabby Waters, Verbena High School