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Central girls beat Bryant for area title

Paul W. Bryant's Destinee Wilson (5) dribbles around Toborsha Holley (15) during a game in the AHSAA Class 5A Area 7 regional tournament final, won by Central 51-35. (Photo by Erin Nelson)

TUSCALOOSA | Style points didn’t matter to Central coach Michael Rivers. All he wanted was a championship.

The Lady Falcons took the lead for good in the second quarter and defeated Paul W. Bryant 51-35 Saturday to win the Class 5A, Area 7 tournament title.

"We are hovering around that 68- to 70-point average," Rivers said. "I told them tonight, ‘We don’t have to get to the points. All I want to do is win. I don’t care if it’s 8-6.’

"I just wanted to get a lead and pull the ball out because I didn’t want anybody to get hurt. I just wanted us to play steady, slow the game down and get out of here with a victory tonight."

Central (23-5) will play at home in Thursday’s subregional game at 7 p.m. The Lady Falcons will play the Area 6 runner-up. Selma plays at Sumter Central in the Area 6 final Monday. The Lady Stampede (13-12) will travel to face the Area 6 champ in the subregional.

Central’s guard trio of sophomore Jerlissa Matthews and seniors Toborsha Holley and Angelica Weatherspoon combined for 34 points. Matthews, an all-tournament selection, led Central with 15 points. Holley, the most valuable player, added 11 points. Weatherspoon, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in last year’s area tournament, had eight points and five steals.

Post player Shawntayla Harris, who made the all-tournament team, had nine points and six rebounds. D’Leisha Dent scored two points and had a team-high 10 rebounds.

Bryant’s Jade Ledet and MarQuanda Anderson made the all-tournament team. Ledet and Anderson scored 11 points each.

"It was back to the same old thing, missing layups and turning the ball over," Bryant coach NeQuesha Jones said. "We missed some opportunities and turned the ball over.

"They got their points off turnovers. They didn’t score on us in the half court. We beat ourselves."

Bryant held a 10-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Falcons closed the first half with an 8-0 run. Lawanda Maddix hit two free throws to tie it at 16, and Megan Prude drove for the go-ahead basket. After Holley made two free throws, Maddix scored with an offensive rebound to give Central a 22-16 halftime lead. The Lady Falcons led 38-28 at the end of the third quarter.

"One thing about my team is, whether we’re up or we’re behind, we still keep our composure," Rivers said. "I’ve got some guards that are pretty steady with Toborsha Holley and Angelica Weatherspoon, and my team captain D’Leisha Dent can always settle the team down. They’re just like miniature coaches on the floor.

"That’s never a problem with us. Whether we’re up or behind, we still play with the same consistency."


Reach Andrew Carroll at or at 205-722-0223.