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ANNISTON- The Sylacauga Lady Aggies made timely plays late in the game to defeat Anniston, 35-30 on Monday. Coming into the game, Sylacauga was on a mission to defeat the only team that defeated them in regular season play. The Lady Bulldogs defeated Sylacauga in their second game of the season in early November.
“Coach Bullock does a great job with his girls,” Sylacauga head coach Derrick Crawford said. “They came to our place early in the season in November and stole one. We had unfinished business with them. That is what we talked about loading up. We were unable to finish the basketball game at home and we wanted to finish. We dictated the ball game in the second half. From the second quarter on we controlled the ball game. We felt like we took their best punch in the first quarter. They threw everything they could in the first quarter and we were still right there. I told my girls to relax and let’s go to work.”
The match between the No. 5 team in Class 4A, the Anniston Lady Bulldogs and the No. 7 team in Class 5A, the Sylacauga Lady Aggies lived up to the billing on Tuesday.
Both teams relied on their defense and their standout players the entire night.
Anniston standout Nene Bolton opened the game with a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 3-0. On their next trip down the court, she went to work on the post for a layup to give the Lady Bulldogs a 5-0 lead.
Thomas hit the first field goal of the game for Sylacauga at the 5:22 mark in the first quarter to cut lead down to 5-3.
Bolton responded with a pull jumper to give Anniston a 7-3 lead. Evonna Jordan’s putback increased their lead to 9-3.
Sylacauga closed the quarter on a 4-0 run. Tierra Dark scored in transition off a nice bounce pass from Kiara Pope to cut the Anniston lead down 9-7 going into the second quarter.
Thomas got going in the second quarter. The reigning Class 5A Player of the Year scored back-to-back layups to give the Lady Aggies first lead of the game at 11-10 with 6:01 left in the half.
Pope’s layup off a steal gave Sylacauga a 13-11 with 4:54 left in the half. Bolton continued to carry Anniston offensively. The junior scored four quick points to give Anniston a 15-13 lead with 2:51 left in the half.
Thomas ended the quarter on a 7-0 run, which included a pull up 3-pointer to give Sylacauga a 20-15 at halftime.
Scoring was at a minimum in the second half and had to do solely with both teams’ defense.
Jordan cut the lead down to 20-17. Bolton tied the game up at 20-20 with a 3-pointer from the right wing with 4:38 left in the quarter.
Thomas responded with a 5-0 run to give Sylacauga a 25-20 advantage going into the final eight minutes.
Bolton cut the lead down to a point, 25-24 with 6:58 left in the game.
Thomas responded with a baseline jumper to increase Sylacauga a 27-20 lead.
After a Lady Aggie timeout, Thomas jumped a pass that was meant for Bolton down the court for a layup that left the goal shaking after she hit the glass with her hands.
Anniston battled back to cut the lead down to 30-26 with 1:56 left in the game.
With the game on the line, Thomas was able to deliver. With the score 30-28 with 1:09 left, Thomas pulled down a defensive rebound off a rebounded shot. She took the ball down the right side line, then she pulled up and drained a deep pull-up jumper to put the Lady Aggies ahead 32-28 with a minute left. That basket also put Thomas in the 3,000 point club.
“She is officially over 3,000 points tonight,” Crawford said. “I want to congratulate Shakayla. We will recognize her at our next home ball game, which will be against Comer on Friday. She needed 26 points coming into the game.”
Dark nailed 3-4 free throw attempts to seal Sylacauga’s 35-30 victory.