“I think we tightened up defensively,” Childersburg head coach Johnny Johnson said. “We put more pressure on the ball. In the first half, we were slacking off a little bit. I told them in the second half ‘You’ve got to put pressure on the ball,’ and we rotated. That was the difference in the ball game. Caneasha (Calhoun) started making some 3s for us. In the first half, Cierra (Swain) had some good looks, but she missed a lot of layups. We didn’t shoot the ball in the first half. We got slack when we got a good lead in the fourth quarter, but I’m proud of them that they won their area championship and helps us to sub-regionals. It was big for us and the program.”
Childersburg opened up with a 5-0 lead. Elmore County used an 8-3 run to tie the game. By the time Elissa Brown made a layup off a steal, the score stood at 8-8. Before the end of the first quarter, Childersburg managed to regain the lead with a basket by Quintessa Calhoun underneath assisted by a pass across the lane by Caneasha Calhoun.
The two teams remained close throughout the second quarter. Caneasha Calhoun opened the quarter with a basket driving inside the lane from the corner to give Childersburg a 12-8 lead. Later, Cierra Swain made an off-the-glass basket to give Childersburg a 14-10 lead. However, Elmore County had a 4-0 run to tie the game. Olivia Royal hit a midrange jumper to cap the run and put the score at 14-14.
On the next Elmore offensive possession, Kristade Swain grabbed the defensive rebound and assisted Caneasha Calhoun, who hit a 3-point basket. Tariah Reynolds hit one of two free throws to give Childersburg an 18-14 lead.
Abbey Estus knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the Childersburg lead to 18-17 at halftime.
Elmore County gained their first lead of the game by opening the third quarter with an inside jumper by Brown to gain a 19-18 advantage.
Childersburg used a 9-0 run to regain the lead and the momentum in the game. Caneasha Calhoun started the run with a 3-pointer. Swain capped the run with a rebound and put back to give Childersburg a 27-19 lead.
After Royal hit a 3-pointer to close the gap to 27-22, Childersburg went on a 10-0 run. Reynolds hit a shot while driving near the baseline. Caneasha Calhoun hit two 3-pointers to complete the run and give Childersburg a commanding 37-22 lead. Elmore County was able to cut the deficit to 37-27 by the end of the quarter.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Elmore County cut a double-digit deficit down to four points by reeling off a 10-0 run. Ashley Roberts hit a shot from the corner and Brown capped the run with a steal and ensuing layup to cut Childersburg’s lead to 41-37 with still more than two minutes in the game.
With 57 seconds in the game, Quintessa Calhoun had a rebound and put back to give Childersburg a 45-37 lead.
Brown brought Elmore County back into the game with a 3-pointer to cut the Childersburg lead to 45-40.
Childersburg was able to eat up valuable clock time because Elmore County still had four fouls to give before Childersburg went to the free throw line.
When Reynolds made it to the free throw line, only 23.8 seconds were left in the game and Reynolds hit nothing but the bottom of the net on both free throws to give Childersburg a 47-40 lead and seal the game.
“I thought our girls played hard,” Elmore County head coach Amy Rachel said. “Of course, we’re disappointed that we didn’t win the area, but we’re very excited to be going on to the sub-regionals. We didn’t make it last year, so that was the goal at the beginning: to make it on to the next step. I had six girls that played the whole game. I’m really proud of them for the way they played; a six-point ball game against a team as good as Childersburg. We’re going to be okay.”
Childersburg will play Dadeville in their sub-regional game, which will be held at Childersburg Thursday with tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m.
Caneasha Calhoun led Childersburg in scoring with 18 points. Swain was in double figures with 10 points, while Reynolds contributed eight points.
“Caneasha is finally getting her shot back,” Johnson said. “She’s always been a good 3-point shooter and she’s been here five years. She hit some clutch 3-pointers tonight, I think she hit two down the stretch and that opened the lead up for us. Tariah stepped to the free throw line and knocked the free throws down when we needed it. Caneasha, we’re going to miss her next year because she can shoot it. I told her—she’s got the green light—‘If you’re open, shoot the basketball. Even if you’re not making them, keep shooting until you knock them down.’ She had a big night for us.”
Brown led Elmore County in scoring with 15 points, while Royal finished the game with 13 points.
The Lady Panthers will travel to Handley for their sub-regional game Thursday.