Chambers softball picks up three wins

After a slow start to the season, the Chambers Lady Rebels’ softball team has gotten hot. They picked up their third win in a row by defeating Meadowview on Saturday and are now 3-2 heading into a very important week on the diamond.

Chambers started the week with a win over Abbeville on Monday and their second win of the season came on Thursday against Cornerstone, a team that has won six of the last seven Class 1A state championships. CA coach Matt Smith called it a “signature” win for the Rebels.

The victory didn’t come easy, though, as Chambers jumped out to a big lead, then lost it and finally got it back late in the game.

The Rebels led 19-18 heading to the seventh inning, but the Chargers tied it in the top of the inning. Chambers still had one last rally in their bag. With two outs and runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh, senior Deven Still beat out a grounder to shortstop allowing McKensie Barnes to score the winning run in a 20-19 game.

“I’m really proud of how the ladies competed,” Smith said. “It can be tough mentally on a team when you surrender such a large lead but I kept telling the girls inning after inning that this was our kind of game and that we would find a way to win it in the end.”

The Rebels totaled 16 hits in the game, led by Tori Harmon who finished 3-for-4 with four RBI’s and four runs.

The girls kept the momentum going on Saturday when they defeated a good Meadowview team 6-4. CA totaled 10 hits in the game and Bre’Anna Hand once again went the distance on the mound to get the win.

“I was really proud of this victory on a number of different levels,” Smith said. “First off, we finished the week going 3-0. Secondly, we were playing a very strong Meadowview team that looks to be a contender in the west side of 1A without two of our key players Heather Blackburn and Nacole Adams. Finally, after winning our first two in last-to-hit wins fashion, I was really happy to see us come out and play strong defense and receive an excellent pitching performance from Bre’Anna Hand.”

The girls will host rival Springwood here in LaFayette on Thursday in the two teams’ first meeting of the year. That will be the Lady Rebels’ last game before their spring break. They are next scheduled to play Cornerstone on April 1 on the road.

*For full story, see this week’s edition of The Sun.

March 19, 2014 | Posted in: Prep, Sports | Comments Closed

Three CA athletes earn All-State honors

Three Chambers Academy basketball players were selected as part of the annual Alabama Sportswriters Association All-State basketball team, which was announced over the weekend.

The AISA Class A boys state champion Rebels had two players named All-State. Senior point guard Quadarius Tinsley earned second team honors, and senior forward Demetrius Lemon was selected as an honorable mention. Tinsley helped lead the Rebels to their first ever basketball title by averaged 18.6 points per game, along with 7.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists. Tinsley’s buzzer beating three-pointer also gave CA the win over Marengo in the state title game and he was named the AISA Class 1A Final Four MVP.

Lemon was a dominant force under the basket all year for CA. He finished the year averaging 13.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He was named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team, even though he played the state championship game with a separated shoulder. Both Tinsley and Lemon were named to the AISA All-Star team as well.

For the Lady Rebels, senior forward Deven Still was named second team All-State. Still led CA in both points and rebounds, averaging 16.4 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, and leading the team to the Elite Eight. She was also named an AISA All-Star.

Chambers baseball and softball teams get first wins

Chambers Academy’s baseball and softball teams have picked up their first wins over the past week. The Lady Rebels defeated South Montgomery County Academy on Monday and are now 1-2 on the season. The Rebels baseball team defeated Lyman Ward last week for their first win and are 1-4 this season.

The Lady Rebels’ game against SMCA was a wild one that that ended with a 20-19 CA win.

The Raiders jumped on top with five runs in the first inning, but the Lady Rebels responded with three in the bottom of the inning. SMCA extended their lead to 7-3 in the second, but with two outs in the bottom of the second, CA scored seven runs to take their first lead.

Chambers added another run in the third inning, but the Raiders cut their deficit to one after three runs in the top of the fourth. Chambers would go on to score two in the bottom of the inning. By the end of the fifth inning, CA’s lead was 16-11.

After holding the Raiders scoreless in the top of the sixth, the Rebels added four more runs in the bottom frame to take a 20-11 lead to the seventh.

But the Raiders had one last chance and they made the most of it. They scored eight runs and had a runner on second with two outs. But Still made a game saving catch at the centerfield wall to preserve the CA win.

“I was really proud of how the Lady Rebels competed,” CA coach Matt Smith said. “We could have very easily just mailed it in after a far too familiar first inning, but instead we got up on our feet and hit SMCA back inning after inning. We had several players really step up and make some big plays both in the field and at the plate.”

Hand went the distance on the mound to earn the win. At the plate, the Lady Rebels were led by Barnes, who finished 2-for-4 with four RBI and two runs. Adams was 3-for-3 with three RBI and two runs and Blackburn was 2-for-4 with two RBI and three runs. McKensie Barnes was 3-for-3 with three RBI and three runs and Hand had a hit and two RBI. Stewart had two hits and an RBI, and Slay had two hits and a run.

In the baseball win, the Rebels blasted past Lyman Ward 12-1 on Tuesday of last week. The Rangers had defeated Chambers just five days earlier 5-4.

Chambers got a masterful pitching performance by senior Zac Slay, who tossed five innings and allowed just one hit and struck out five.

The CA offense gave Slay a nice confidence boost after jumping on top with two runs in the top of the first inning thanks to a Lane Hodges two-run single. The Rangers scored one run in the bottom of the inning, but that was all they managed. The Rebels scored four more in the third inning and then five in the fourth. They sealed the deal with one more run in the fifth, and the game was called after the bottom half of the inning.

Dylan Moncus finished 3-for-4 in the game and Hodges had two hits. Slay and Corey Richardson each had big hits in the win and Kason Shaver scored three times.

March 12, 2014 | Posted in: Prep, Sports | Comments Closed

Lucas hired as new LaFayette head coach, AD

After a month of waiting, LaFayette High School finally has a new head football coach and athletic director. On Wednesday of last week, the Chambers County Board of Education unanimously chose James Lucas as he next leader of the Bulldogs.

Lucas has served as the head coach at Notasulga High School for four years since 2010. He had an overall 23-21 record with the Blue Devils and has a 1-3 record in the playoffs. Notasulga had gone 4-35 in the four seasons before Lucas’ arrival.

Lucas compiled a 19-9 region record, and led Notasulga to a region title in 2012, their first since 2001. He made the playoffs in three of his four seasons leading the Blue Devils.

Prior to accepting the Notasulga head coaching job, Lucas briefly served as interim head coach in 2010 at the school before permanently replacing the departing Roland Bell. The previous two years, he was the defensive coordinator on Bell’s staff. Lucas got his start in the coaching ranks as an assistant at Booker T. Washington, and he was a volunteer offensive line coach at Notasulga from 2004-08.

Lucas is a graduate of Billingsley High School and Troy University. He was a running back on Troy’s Division II national championship team in 1987. Before beginning his career in the education field, Lucas worked as operations manager at Waste Management Inc.

In addition to his duties on the football field, Lucas coached boys and girls track and field at Notasulga. He is a well respected member of the community and in 2013 was one of six individuals in the state selected by the Alabama High School Athletic Association and Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association for their Making A Difference Award. The award is given to a coach who goes beyond what is expected in teaching his athletes sportsmanship, leadership and personal growth skills only found on the playing courts and fields.

Lucas will take over a LaFayette program that finished with just two wins last season. He will replace Dialleo Burks, who announced he was leaving LHS in December after just one season to return to his alma mater LaGrange High School as the head coach. Lucas will be the Bulldogs third coach in three seasons. Former head coach Steve Coker was the last to lead the Bulldogs to a playoff berth in 2011.

“I want the opportunity to be able to restore the pride of football back to LaFayette,” Lucas said. “I felt that with the talent that they have and the type of community background and help and support system, it will be a good place to try to restore the tradition of football there.”

Lucas was selected out of a field of approximately 20 candidates for the job, according to Chambers County Schools Superintendent Kelli Hodge. He had applied last year and was one of two finalists for the job that ultimately went to Burks. Hodge said she was grateful that Lucas applied again this year.

Lucas will officially begin his duties at LaFayette on March 10, which, in addition to coaching and his role as athletic director, will include teaching yet-to-be-determined classes.

*For full story see this week’s edition of The Sun.

March 5, 2014 | Posted in: Prep, Sports | Comments Closed

LaFayette upended by Westbrook in Regionals

LaFayette players react after their 49-48 loss to Westbrook Christian in the Regional playoffs.

LaFayette players react after their 49-48 loss to Westbrook Christian in the Regional playoffs.

JACKSONVILLE – LaFayette’s dream to return to the Final Four ended last week when they fell in the Northeast Regional round to No. 5 Westbrook Christian in a tense contest that went down to the wire.

The Bulldogs (16-9) had several opportunities to get the upset over the final minute of play but ultimately came up short in a 49-48 loss.

“They (Westbrook) shot the ball extremely well,” LHS coach Obadiah Threadgill said. “We had watched them on film and were ready but they shot the ball much better than we anticipated. I’m so proud of these fellas as far as what we’ve accomplished this season. I hate that it had to end like this, but that team was deserving and played very well and I wish them the best.”

After 31 minutes of thrilling action, it all came down to the final 30 seconds and it was missed opportunities that stood out the most. LaFayette had actually trailed nearly the entire second half, but took a 46-45 lead with just over three minutes to play. With 2:26 left, Westbrook regained the lead, but then the scoring stopped. It would be two minutes before anyone else put points on the board.

It looked bleak for the Bulldogs when the Warriors increased their lead to three after two free throws with 27 seconds to play. But Jatarvious Whitlow raced down the court and connected on a layup, drawing a foul in the process. His ensuing free throw was long, however, and Westbrook grabbed the rebound and were quickly fouled.

The Bulldogs caught a break when Westbrook missed the front end of a one and one foul shot and LHS grabbed the rebound with 14 seconds to play. After a timeout, LaFayette’s attempt to tie the game came up short after a Warrior player blocked a shot in the lane, but the Bulldogs forced a jump ball on the rebound and were given possession. They had just one more chance with five seconds to play.

Last year, the Bulldogs advanced to the state championship in a similar situation, but it just wasn’t meant to be this time around. Their last shot came up short and the buzzer sounded on their season.

“The only thing we can ask is that we allowed ourselves a chance to win the game, and we did that,” Threadgill said after the loss. “We had those chances but didn’t finish it. It just didn’t fall. Those things happen.”

Aside from the closing seconds, the game was extremely competitive. It featured 14 lead changes, 10 of which happened in the first half. The biggest lead by either team was six points and the squads combined to shoot just 26 free throws in the game.

Westbrook’s Kyle Leonard connected on five-of-seven three pointers in the game, something that surprised Threadgill. The Warriors also did a good job limiting LaFayette’s ability to work in the lane. “Their zone was efficient,” Threadgill said. “They kind of packed it in on us. They didn’t guard our three point shooters like anyone else did, and we hadn’t seen that yet. And they just shot the ball extremely well. We played him (Leonard) better in the second half, we just didn’t do enough to get the win ”

Barnes led LaFayette with 14 points and five rebounds. Whitlow finished with 11 points and Cordeski Floyd scored eight and had three steals. Senior Tyric Davis had six points, three assists and two steals, and Kaminski Bledsoe scored five.

After the game, Threadgill talked about how his team needed to grow from this experience. “We had some exciting times last season,” he said, “but you can’t play this game and experience the highs without experiencing the lows. Hopefully we’ll learn from tonight.”

*For full story see this week’s edition of The Sun.

February 25, 2014 | Posted in: Prep, Sports | Comments Closed

One Goal, One Dream: Rebels Win State Title

Coach Jason Allen and the Rebels celebrate after accepting the AISA 1A state championship trophy.

Coach Jason Allen and the Rebels celebrate after accepting the AISA 1A state championship trophy.

MONTGOMERY-Quadarius Tinsley calmly jogged down the court as the seconds ticked away. He knew the game was in his hands. When he got to halfcourt he slowed to a walk, there were less than 10 seconds to play. He settled behind the three-point line, right in front of the basket and just stared. He stared at the clock and at the defender in front of him, ready to make his move. Then he broke to his right, seemingly headed toward the hoop, then stopped and shot.

The high arching shot hung up in the air for what seemed like an eternity as everyone in Catherine Dixon Roland Arena held their breath.

Chambers Academy had led the AISA Class 1A state championship game for the entire second half, but after a wild series of plays, Marengo had somehow found a way to tie it at 43 with 14 seconds to play. The Rebels were all out of timeouts so there wasn’t time to draw up a play. It was time to improvise. And there was little doubt as to who was going to take the final shot.

As Tinsley’s shot reached the top of it’s arc and started to descend, it at first looked like it was going to be short. But it wasn’t…it was perfect.

Teammates lift QD Tinsley (left) after his buzzer-beater gave Chambers a 46-43 win and the state title.

Teammates lift QD Tinsley (left) after his buzzer-beater gave Chambers a 46-43 win and the state title.

The ball swished through the net like a crack of lightening. It fell to the hardwood and the buzzer sounded. The silence that had engulfed the arena seconds before was gone, in its place were the thunderous screams and cheers from the CA fans, all of whom were at the same time stunned and overjoyed at what they had just seen. The Rebels had just won the state championship.

“I knew I was going to take the shot,” Tinsley said. “In the timeout, coach told me if it came down, and they made their shot, that he wanted the ball in my hands. I wasn’t nervous, I was very confident. I’ve put myself in that situation every day in practice so I was very confident whether I missed or made it.”

“We told the kids in the timeout that if they do (tie it up), we want to take the last shot of the game and we wanted the ball in our best player’s hands,” Chambers coach Jason Allen said. “How it happened was up to the kids. We spread the court and we were going to try to take it to the rim. But he (Tinsley) felt like he could hit the shot and that’s what players have got to do, and he stepped up in the biggest moment of his life.”

The made-for-the-movies moment was a fitting end to what was the greatest basketball season in Chambers Academy history. The Rebels finished with an incredible 26-2 record and won the first state championship in CA basketball history. They overcame adversity both on and off the court, fought through injuries and doubters and still came out winners.

The miracle journey to the top of the mountain started on Thursday in the semifinals. In order to advance to the title game, the Rebels had to get past a scrappy Edgewood bunch that was one of only two teams to hand Chambers a loss this season. In a tense contest, the Rebels held off a late fourth quarter charge to earn a 48-44 win.

Chambers jumped out to an early lead but the Wildcats stayed close, trailing by one after the first quarter. Just like in their previous meetings, Edgewood had success slowing the game down, keeping the fast-paced Rebels out of rhythm. With 6:14 left in the first half, Edgewood took their first lead of the game. Chambers stayed close, though, and were down 26-25 at the half.

Seconds into the third quarter, CA regained the lead on a Tae Henry basket. They wouldn’t trail the rest of the game.

With 2:40 to play, Chambers built their biggest lead of the night, 44-37, after a perfect assist by Henry to Cord Dodgen under the basket.

Read the rest of this entry »

February 19, 2014 | Posted in: Prep, Sports | Comments Closed

Bulldogs run past Ranburne to advance to Regionals

LaFayette High’s boys survived a late charge by Ranburne High in the subregional round of the AHSAA Class 2A playoffs on Saturday evening to advance to the Northeast Regionals for the second consecutive season. The Bulldogs will face No. 5 Westbrook Christian in the regionals today at Jacksonville State University at 4:30 pm CST.

As the Area 9 runner-up, the Bulldogs (16-8) had to hit the road for the first round of the playoffs to face Area 10 champion Ranburne. They even had to wait an extra day, after the game was moved from Friday due to weather. Those factors didn’t faze LaFayette, as they controlled the contest and held on late for a 67-61 win.

“I thought the kids played really hard all night,” LHS coach Obadiah Threadgill said. “We had some trouble getting on the shooter late in the game, but I thought for most of the night we defended really well.”

After leading from the opening tip, the Bulldogs had their hands full in the fourth quarter. Ranburne erupted over the final eight minutes, scoring 30 points, including connecting on six three-pointers. But they never got closer than six points.

LaFayette seemed comfortable and confident in the first half, leading by 10 at the break. They continued to cruise in the third, thanks in large part to the play of Trevond Barnes who scored 17 of his game-high 22 points in the second half. Barnes also connected on seven-of-eight free throws in the fourth quarter to help seal the win. But he was the only bright spot in an abysmal free throw shooting night for the Dogs. As a team, they connected on just 18-of-37 free throws, and their inefficiency in the fourth allowed Ranburne to close in late. It’s something Threadgill knows they have to correct if they expect to advance further in the playoffs.

Along with Barnes, Kaminski Bledsoe and Cordeski Floyd were solid with eight points each.

As they move on to the next round, the Bulldogs will match up with No. 5 Westbrook Christian (23-4) today in Jacksonville.

“They are a similar type team to Ranburne, but they are very fundamentally sound,” Threadgill said about Westbrook Christian. “They run a lot of motion are good at adjusting to where the defense is. Athletically I think we match up really well with them, but we are going to have to play sound basketball and communicate well.”

*For full story see this week’s edition of The Sun.

Chambers boys two wins away from state title

The Chambers Rebels are just two games away from earning the school’s first state championship in the sport after a heroic performance against Patrician Academy in the AISA 1A Elite Eight last Wednesday in Montgomery.

Costly losses in the Regional Tournaments by both the No. 7 Rebels and No. 5 Saints, pitted maybe Class 1A’s best teams against each other in the quarterfinal round. The game lived up to the hype as Chambers (24-2) rallied from a nine point fourth quarter deficit to grab a 69-62 win.

CA advances to the Final Four for the first time since 1997 on Thursday at Huntingdon College in Montgomery. The game was originally set for today, but weather forced it to be delayed.

The Rebels will be facing the team that handed them that Regional’s loss, Edgewood Academy. Chambers handled the Wildcats in their two regular season meetings, but fell short in their last meeting after Edgewood was able to slow the pace of the game.

If the Rebels win Thursday, they will play for the 1A state championship on Friday. They would face the winner of the Lakeside-Marengo semifinal game. The title game will be at 7:30 pm CST back at Huntingdon.

Before the Rebels could set their sights on the Final Four they first had to get past Patrician, and it proved to be their most difficult task of the season. It took a big momentum shift that spurred an exciting comeback for CA to move on.

After a close first half, that saw Chambers take a two-point lead at the break, the Saints got the upper hand in the third. They benefited from some poor free throw shooting to take a 53-46 lead into the fourth quarter.

With their back against the wall, Allen made a few daring moves. He went with a speedy lineup, and turned up the pressure. “We locked them up in a full-court press and tired to make it as crazy as possible,” he said. The move worked, and the Rebels started chipping into the lead.

The momentum really changed when Allen called for one of the Rebels signature play. As Demetrius Lemon grabbed the ball in mid-air and slammed it through the hoop to complete an alley-oop, it was like a punch in the stomach to the Saints and gave new life to Chambers. Then with just over five minutes to play Quadarius Tinsley drained a three pointer and the Rebels took the lead for good.

In the fourth, they outscored Patrician 23-9. Tinsley led the way, scoring eight of his game-high 25 over the final eight minutes. Allen praised his performance, noting the extra time the senior was putting in during practice. Tinsley also grabbed 10 rebounds in the win and had four assists.

Lemon also finished with a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Cord Dodgen scored nine and Jay Tinsley had eight.

*For full story see this week’s edition of The Sun.

February 12, 2014 | Posted in: Prep, Sports | Comments Closed

LaFayette girls earn first playoff berth in four years

For the first time in four years, the LaFayette High’s Lady Bulldogs are headed to the playoffs. The girls earned a berth in the Northeast subregional round after defeating Horseshoe Bend in the Area 9 tournament in a thrilling 27-25 game on Thursday in Lanett.

“We played extremely hard on both sides of the ball we played our most complete game on defense and really limited them on run outs and second opportunities which was the game plan going in,” LHS coach Michael Bratcher said.

Horseshoe Bend has long been a thorn in LaFayette’s side. The Generals defeated LHS twice during the regular season, including once in overtime. They’ve also ended the Lady Dogs’ season the past two years. “The game played out just like it has the previous seasons where we where leading the game and they took the lead late on us,” Bratcher says. “But unlike the other years, we played great defense to the end and did not go in to any lapses”

LaFayette took an early advantage in the game, leading by six at the half. But the Generals rallied in the third, outscoring LHS 9-2 to take a one point lead into the fourth. The Lady Dogs, however, would not be denied. With the game tied at 25 and less than a minute to play, Raven Floyd hit two big free throws that proved to be the difference.

Keiya Baker led LaFayette with 11 points, while Bianca Walker scored six.

The win propelled the girls to the area title game against host Lanett. They didn’t fare as well, falling to the No. 9 Panthers, 92-20.

The game got away from LaFayette right from the start as Lanett opened on a 26-2 run. After taking a 40-point halftime lead, the Panthers mysteriously left their starters in for the duration of the game in an effort to run up the score and pad their stats.

Blunt led the Bulldogs with seven points.

With the runner-up finish, the girls have to hit the road in the subregionals, and their challenge couldn’t be any more difficult. They will face Area 10 champion and defending state champion Woodland High School. Despite some losses from last years’ team, Woodland hasn’t lost a step, compiling a 29-1 record and the number one ranking in Class 2A.

The game will take place on Thursday in Woodland at 7 pm CST. The winner will advance to the Northeast Region Tournament at Jacksonville State starting Feb. 19.

“Even though the road ahead is extremely tough I am hoping that this will be a building block to success in the future as we return nine players next year and have a very energetic and athletic group of eighth graders coming,” Bratcher added.

LaFayette boys will travel to Ranburne for subregionals

LaFayette’s boys are headed back to the playoffs. The Bulldogs (15-8) defeated Randolph County in the first round of the area tournament on Friday to secure a trip to the Class 2A Northeast subregionals. But LHS still has one major hurdle they have yet to clear this year. They were defeated by Lanett on Monday night in the area title game and will have to hit the road in the first round of the playoffs.

It was the third loss of the season to the No. 2 ranked Panthers, but it’s not going to waiver the Bulldogs’ belief that they can make it back to the Class 2A finals. That’s because the same thing happened last year. Lanett defeated the Bulldogs three times during the 2012-13 season, but LaFayette had the last laugh when they defeated the Panthers in the Regional Tournament to earn a trip to the Final Four. Coach Obadiah Threadgill knows his team can do it again. “They know that the sun is going to rise tomorrow, and we are going to get back to work,” he said after the loss Monday. “They know that these games are preliminary and that the ones that really count are coming up. This team understands that. Six of these guys were with me last year when we went through the same thing, so they understand what we have to do.”

Before LaFayette can think about finally getting past Lanett, they must focus on this week. The Bulldogs will travel to face Area 10 champion Ranburne in the Northeast Subregional round on Friday. It’s the second straight season that Ranburne and LaFayette will face each other in the subregional round. The winner will advance to the Regional Tournament, which starts next Wednesday, Feb. 19 at Jacksonville State University.

It’s at the Regional Tournament where Lanett and LaFayette could meet. Both would have to make it out of the subregionals and through the first round of the Regionals before they could see each other again. If LaFayette wins Friday, they would face the winner of the Westbrook Christian-Section game in the first round of the Regionals. The Region finals will be on Saturday, Feb. 22.

LaFayette and Ranburne will square off on Friday at 7 pm CST in Ranburne. Lanett will host Walter Welborne.

*For full story see this week’s edition of The Sun.

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