Hokes Bluff beats Ashville 49-31
Sat. February 11, 2012 at 11:00 p.m. | By Nick Johnston Sports Writer
Hokes Bluff's Malory Moland drives to the hoop for a layup during Saturday's win over Ashville. (Photo by NIck Johnston | Gadsden Times)
HOKES BLUFF — If it looks like Hokes Bluff’s Carlie Shields is in mid-season form, there’s a good reason why.
After essentially being out of action for six months with a hip injury — and missing the first nine games of the 2011-12 season — the sophomore guard is getting things going at the right time.
Saturday night she scored a game-high 20 points to lead the 10th-ranked Eagles past Ashville 49-31 for the Class 3A, Area 10 girls basketball tournament championship.
“She’s just now getting to the point where she’s had that practice time everybody else got that first month,” Hokes Bluff (27-4) coach and Carlie’s father Jason Shields said. “She’s gradually getting better every game.”
Thursday night against Susan Moore in the semifinals, Carlie Shields scored 17 points to help the Eagles advance to the championship against Ashville (21-8). With the win over the Bulldogs, Hokes Bluff earned the right to host either Piedmont or Saks in the sub-regional round, while Ashville must travel to the winner of the Piedmont-Saks game — which will be played Monday night.
A win in the sub-regional round would send the Eagles to the Northeast Regional tournament at Jacksonville State University.
“That’s been our goal all year long,” said Hokes Bluff senior post player Malory Moland, who scored 12 points Friday night. “That’s why we’re getting better and better as we keep going. The games mean a lot more.”
Hokes Bluff got out to a fast start against the Bulldogs, as Carlie Shields scored 16 points in the first quarter to give the Eagles all the momentum they would need.
“I was hot Thursday night and it carried over,” she said. “I knew it was a big game and I had to show up.”
Hokes Bluff led 18-6 at the end of the first quarter and stretched the margin to 33-12 by halftime. Hannah Evans, who scored nine points in the game, made two from downtown in the second quarter.
The Eagles cruised from there, leading 40-18 by the end of the third quarter. Jason Shields emptied his bench in the fourth as the game turned into a celebration down the stretch. Summer Wilson added six points in the win, while Savannah Ward had a game-high nine assists. After the game, the head coach was sure to point out Ward’s work ethic having an effect on the entire team.
“Savannah Ward has set a precedent,” he said. “The way you get better is to work your butt off at practice everyday. They’re catching onto that. They’re all seeing Savannah and how she’s improved.
For Ashville, Ebonie Brook scored eight points, while Nikki Moss and Destiny Montgomery added six points apiece.
All attention now turns to Monday night’s game between Piedmont and Saks.
“Both of them are tough,” said Jason Shields. “They were all here tonight, and I’m going to be there Monday night.”