MA boys outlast Panthers

 PRATTVILLE - Less than 24 hours after suffering a tough loss to area rival Pike Road, Montgomery Academy bounced back with a 51-45 win over 3A rival Prattville Christian Academy. “We kept them from driving on us as much and we got some charging fouls in our favor,” MA coach Jeremy Arant said. “The other key thing is that we managed the ball much better.” The Eagles drew several charging fouls which slowed down the Panthers aggression in the lane. Most importantly PCA made twice as many turnovers as MA.

Led by their outstanding point guard, Jacob Comer, the Panthers led after the first quarter 16-12 but by the time intermission rolled around the Eagles led 27-24. Comer drained four 3-pointers in the first quarter that proved to be the difference early on. MA never fully pulled away for the victory but they always kept the Panthers a few points behind.

“We were still a little off and PCA is getting better with every game. Their point guard is a handful but we played better against him in second half. I think that was another big factor, we slowed him down-a little bit,” Arant said. Comer wound up scoring 30 of PCA’s 45 points.

“Our point guard is special and he can flat out play. He is so quick and he did all he could do to help us win,” PCA coach Jason Roberson said. “We just didn’t get enough production from others. MA took several charges, we set a lot of illegal screens and they didn’t. They didn’t turn it over that much. We are still young and they have experience. My guys are still figuring things out. But we are building a very good team and I think our future looks good.”

In addition to Comer pouring in 30 points for PCA, Hunter Coleman scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds. Stillman Davis tallied four points and seven boards. Tillman Makupson and Carson Roberson had 7 rebounds each. PCA now stands at 8-18.

For Montgomery Academy, Britton Kohn led the way with 13 points and six rebounds. Ollie Bear had nine points and eight rebounds. Thomas Kirkham added nine points and five rebounds. James Snead tallied six points and 10 rebounds. Jamal Cooper came in with six points. Cam Holmes and William Robertson scored four points each. The Eagles are now 15-9.

Academy girls avenge earlier losses to PCA

 “We finally put together a total game,” MA coach Barry Fencher said after his Eagles defeated PCA 61-51 Saturday night. Like the MA boys, the win came the day following a defeat at area rival Pike Road and the girl’s victory over PCA helped to take away the sting from losing to the Panther twice in 2019-2020.

MA looked better, looked more diversified and forced PCA to look at a new defense. Fencher has long utilized the 1-3-1 zone and PCA has picked it apart in the earlier meetings between the two teams. But Saturday night after experimenting a few times in the season, Fencher sent the Eagles on a man-to-man mission and it worked. “Give Barry a lot of credit. He abandoned his traditional zone and went to man to man. They were very good too. They exploited things tonight creating opportunities and they did a great job with the change. I’m proud of the fact that we helped to cause a great team like MA to make such a change,” PCA coach Jason Roberson said respectfully.

The Eagles offense doesn’t look the same as last year. It was Leighton Robertson and Gabby Ramirez pouring in the points last season but this year the two have passed the torch to others. Teams have changed their defenses because of Robertson and Ramirez and they are always closely guarded. Plus the two have suffered injuries that have greatly hampered their normal style.

Madi Caddell has become the go to scoring machine for MA and led the Eagles once again with 22 points that included a half-dozen 3-pointers. Millie Stevenson, the only senior, is now driving the lane and causing havoc for opponents and scoring as well. “We’ve had a rocky patch and we’ve been trying to work things out. We made up our minds we were not going to give up tonight, especially after last night,” Stevenson said. “It was part of the plan to drive at them and draw fouls. It worked for us.”

After trailing 19-14 at the end of the opening quarter, Caddell sparked MA with a trio of 3-pointers in the second quarter. Ann Cobern Chapman hit a shot at the buzzer to give the Eagles a 35-30 halftime lead. “We rebounded well. We played defense well. We drove into the lane well. You know, I now believe we are a better man-to-man team than a zone team,” Fencher said.

“We have been going through a few weeks of not paying attention to the little details and sometimes it is hard to get them to understand that when you are winning,” Roberson said. “Now they will probably pay closer attention after losing to MA. I believe we will be fine before the playoffs.”    

The outstanding PCA team dropped to 24-2 on the season. Ella Jane Connell led PCA with 22 points. Jacey Haynes had 16 points and eight rebounds. Coco Thomas tallied nine points and five rebounds. Tori DeMaio grabbed eight rebounds.

“We lost to Pike Road twice and PCA twice. After losing to Pike Road last night this win comes at a perfect time,” Fencher said. “We have not played well against these teams until tonight, and after this I’m much happier with where we are. We still got things to work on but I feel better.” MA is 19-5.

In addition to Caddell’s sharpshooting, Stevenson poured in 17 points and collected four rebounds. Anaya Thomas had a big game with 12 points and five boards. Julia Williams and Robertson had four points each. Ramirez had five assists.

“I think we feel good about things now. We are a different team than last year and we are still working things out,” Stevenson said. “I think this win tonight will be a big confidence booster for us going into playoffs.”

 PCA took time out to interrupt the game and honor Ella Jane Connell, who scored her 1,000th career point against MA. Connell becomes the 15th player in PCA basketball history to score 1,000 points. “What makes her different is that she accomplished this before the end of sophomore season,” Roberson said. “No one else has done that. It is truly a remarkable feat.”