Bob Jones and James Clemens advance to 7A Area 8 tournament title game
Lady Patriots and Jets opened the tournament Tuesday night with wins
By Caleb Odom
MADISON — Both the James Clemens and Bob Jones girls basketball teams punched their tickets to the Thursday championship game with victories Tuesday in the 7A Area 8 Tournament.
The James Clemens Jets toppled Florence 65-46 in the first game, while the Patriots overpowered Austin 55-24 in the tournament that is being held at Bob Jones High School.
Bob Jones was led by a strong shooting night out of Alana Obianozie who finished with 15 points in the win.
James Clemens counted on the reliability of Gabriella Stigger and her 21-point performance to get past a strong-starting Florence team.
The first game pitted James Clemens against Florence, with the season on the line, and the Jets started out a little flat.
The Falcons seized a 16-3 lead near the end of the first quarter that left James Clemens looking for a swift response.
“It’s hard a beat a team three times,” James Clemens head coach Monica Maxwell said.
“Being here in a neutral gym, the same team three times, it’s just one of those things. You’ve just got to get some shots up and run the court a little bit and get warm and your regular game kicks in.”
The Jets got the spark they needed in the second quarter when Kimory Porter hit back to back 3’s to swing the momentum.
“Last year we were more nervous,” Porter said.
“We weren’t scared but it’s a team win with them. So every day, every practice, every game, win or lose is with them. So it’s just team effort.”
The shots started to fall and James Clemens was rolling as the crowd maintained a dull roar throughout the action.
As the clock ticked down toward halftime, the Jets flew closer to taking the lead away from Florence.
With just two seconds left, James Clemens turned to Deyon Smith, who drilled a 2-point shot that tied the game at 28-28.
The second half took a turn quickly when Alexa Moore handed the Jets the lead 30-28 just seconds into the third quarter.
James Clemens took the game over with ball control and drawing fouls.
By the time the fourth quarter was underway, Gabriella Stigger had set up camp at the free throw line and she was making them count.
“When you watch good games, close games, they all come down to free throws,” Stigger said.
“Who can hit shots when they are tired, when they are not tired.”
Porter finished with 18 points, while Moore scored 9 for James Clemens.
With James Clemens moving on to the Thursday championship game, it was next Bob Jones’ turn to try to advance past Austin in the second game.
In a game that began with numerous turnovers and missed shots by both sides, it was the Patriots who seized control and ran away with it in the end.
When energy was an issue, Alana Obianozie got the team going early with her strong shooting.
“I think I got into a rhythm, but I also think that rhythm helped my team as well,” Obianozie said.
Bob Jones took advantage of its size and blocked shots, intercepted Austin passes and scored in transition.
“Alana, I know I’m going to get a lot of consistent effort from her like offensively and defensively,” Bob Jones head coach Jazmine Carr said.
The Patriots led 10-3 after the first quarter, but Austin was able to stay in at 18-10 Bob Jones at the half.
In the second half, Bob Jones started to impose its will on Austin and the cold start became an afterthought.
“I don’t think we were nervous, I just think we were playing down to our competition,” Obianozie said.
By the end of the third quarter, it had turned into a 41-14 blowout and the Patriots were shifting their focus to James Clemens on Thursday.
“We beat them twice already I’m sure they don’t want to get beat again so they are going to come out with their best efforts. So we just have to put our best foot forward and play,” Bob Jones player Janiyah Bone said.
The Bob Jones versus James Clemens matchup on Thursday at 6 p.m. has both sides chomping at the bit to meet again.
“It comes down to effort. It comes down to our team supporting each other. That’s what we do every game so I don’t think we are going to change anything,” Maxwell said.
As Maxwell tries to keep her Jets in a winning routine, Carr maintains respect for the James Clemens program with a dash of competitive fire.
“I’m happy that they came out with that win today,” Carr said.
“But come Thursday we are going to be ready to go. We are trying to win another Area Championship.”