By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
COLD SPRINGS —
Keegan Johnson sparked a 3-point explosion late in the second quarter, and Karlee Perdue kept it rolling from behind the arc to start the third, lifting Cold Springs’ girls basketball team to a 75-49 home blowout of Sulligent in Monday night’s Class 2A, Area 14 Tournament championship.
The sophomore-junior duo combined for seven of their squad’s 13 total treys en route to clinching the area crown and the No. 7 Eagles’ 20th win of the season. That improves Cold Springs’ area title streak to eight years and its run of seasons with at least 20 victories to nine.
“I’m definitely proud of that,” coach Tammy West said. “It just keeps it going.”
With the Blue Devils only trailing by two deep into the second quarter, Johnson, only a sophomore, took over for the Eagles, nailing three 3’s to quickly give her team a nine-point cushion headed into halftime.
Once Cold Springs returned to the court, Perdue made sure Sulligent never had a chance of coming back. The junior drained a pair of 3- and 2-pointers in a matter of seconds and added two more treys later in the third quarter to extend the Eagles’ advantage to an out-of-reach 23 points.
“They came out and had so much confidence, which some of them, Keegan and Karlee, haven’t had this year,” West said. “I’ve believed in them all year, and they came out firing tonight. It was good, really good.”
Emme Willoughby, a valuable addition from Cold Springs’ junior varsity squad since the county tournament, poured in two 3’s of her own, while Haley Freeman, Hayden West, Bailey West and Rilee White all had one.
“We give everybody the green light. There’s nobody that I don’t feel comfortable with shooting the ball,” West said. “We created all those good looks by driving in and kicking it out. That’s something we’ve been working on the past couple of weeks.”
Perdue’s 16 point were tops for the Eagles, though three of her teammates also reached double figures. Chloe Harbison was just shy of a triple-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds and seven steals, Johnson was next in line with 11 points and Willoughby rounded out the bunch with 10.
Freeman finished with nine points, Hayden West and Caitlyn Hall both corraled five, and Bailey West and White pitched in three apiece.
“This is probably the most complete game we’ve had since we lost Haven (Watson),” West said in reference to a key senior who suffered a season-ending ACL injury earlier in the season. “I miss her. I really wish she could be out there on floor.”
Cold Springs (20-7) will stay at home for a do-or-die sub-regional contest against Area 13 runner-up Fultondale on Thursday at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to the Northwest Regional Tournament at Wallace State.
% Cold Springs 54, Sulligent 45: The pain on Chayse Elliott’s face was apparent as he unsteadily knelt in the front row and forced a smile while posing for pictures with his teammates after claiming the boys’ area championship.
Despite missing Friday’s semifinal versus Lamar County with a brutal high ankle sprain, there was no way the senior standout was going to sit the bench again with so much at stake for his Cold Springs’ squad. Elliott started the game for the Eagles and finished it for the Blue Devils, picking up 20 points and 12 rebounds in a gritty performance that left the raucous home-crowd with a second title to celebrate.
“You’ve got to understand, this was the most important game of our year,” the UAH signee said. “If we would’ve lost, we’d be playing the No. 4 team in 2A (Vincent).”
It took an entire team effort for the Eagles to dispatch a speedy Sulligent team. Triston Chambers and Layne Rice provided some offensive pop of their own with 13 and eight points, respectively, and every single player moved the ball to perfection, allowing Cold Springs to zip and zag for easy shots and open baskets.
Brandon Whaley and Austin Moore both chipped in four points, Josh Freeman knocked down a 3-pointer and Mason Harris was responsible for two points.
“I’m so proud of every one of them,” Elliott said of his teammates. “I can’t say enough about all those guys.
“I didn’t think we were going to be here when I hurt my arm, but we’ve come a long way, and we’re getting back in it. That’s all we can ask for, start playing good and play as a team.”
The Eagles (17-10) will hope to ride the momentum of their area championship triumph into Friday’s sub-region contest versus Altamont. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m. at Cold Springs.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.