By: Maggie Wilks
This past weekend, the Cornerstone Lady Eagles competed in the ACAA Division 1 Final Four in Oxford, Alabama. After only two years of varsity basketball, the Lady Eagles were excited for the opportunity to end their season in State Championship contention.
On Friday morning [February 15] the Lady Eagles defeated the Chilton Patriots 52-37 to advance to the State Championship game on Saturday morning. After a diligently fought game, the Lady Eagles fell to the Tabernacle Torches 57-47 ending their season as State Runner-Ups.
The Eagles dominated in the first quarter outscoring the Patriots 17-8 with two 3-point shots by Laura Beth Wells. Encouraged by the strong Eagle fan base present in Oxford, the Lady Eagles went in at the half 22-14. In the third quarter, leading scorer Kelly Nelson put up eight points to help extend the Eagle’s lead to 41-29. As the seconds ticked away in the final quarter, the Lady Eagles stood their ground to extend their season to the State Championship game!
With outstanding post performances by Kelly Nelson (11 points) and Darby Culpepper (10 points and 9 rebounds), the Lady Eagles defeated the Chilton Patriots 52-37.
Abbie Sims, Shelby Harrison, and Jacie Bell each contributed 6 points to the semi-final win, and freshman Laura Beth Wells scored 10 points and led the team with 6 assists.
On Saturday morning [February 16], the Eagles matched up against regional rivals the Tabernacle Torches for the State Championship. Previously in the season, the Eagles had fallen to the Torches 49-24 and 56-46. Knowing that they must play their very best game of basketball, the Lady Eagles entered the game motivated and determined to fight.
After a defensive battle in the first quarter, the Torches led the Eagles 9-8. However, the Eagles’ Laura Beth Wells drained two 3-point shots and a last-second assist to Kelly Nelson to put the Eagles up 22-15 at the half! Unshaken by the Eagle’s swing of momentum, the Torches battled back in the third rallied by Tournament MVP Abbey Blackburn to outscore the Eagles 26-15 in the third. Blackburn took advantage of the Eagles’ foul trouble and scored 11 points in the third. The Torches finished with a strong defensive performance in the final quarter by holding the Eagles to 10 points while extending their lead to the final of 57-47.
Junior, Kelly Nelson, led the Eagles in scoring with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Darby Culpepper and Shelby Harrison both scored 8 points followed by freshman and All-Tournament recipient Laura Beth Wells with 6. Senior, Abbie Sims, completed her last basketball game as a Cornerstone Eagle with 4 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists. Abbie was also named as a member of the All-State Tournament Team.
For the Torches, MVP Abbey Blackburn finished the game with 19 points, and All-Tournament Team member Anna Grace Branham scored 15.
Senior, Abbie Sims, stated, “I am amazed at how far we have come this year. Last year we didn’t even make it to the final four. As a team we have supported and encouraged each other as a family. I am so proud of my team and thankful to have been a part of this historic moment for my senior year.”
Coach Heather Harrison expressed her pride in her team’s hard work throughout the season to make it to the championship game and for continuing to fight and maintain commendable sportsmanship even when the game became difficult.
Congratulations to the Cornerstone Christian Academy Lady Eagles on their ACAA State Runner-Up title!