By Erik Harris
TRUSSVILLE — Clay-Chalkville senior guard Kristian Hudson didn’t start the Lady Cougars’ opening round game of the New Year’s Shootout against Oxford, Miss., but she darn well finished it.
Hudson, a typical stalwart in head coach Justin Haynie’s starting five, found herself on the bench at tipoff before checking in three minutes later to score 20 in her team’s 50-29 win Saturday.
The senior caught fire to start the second half 4-for-4 from the field to help Clay-Chalkville build a 15-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
“The good thing about Kristian is she’s consistent, she’s always going to play well and give us a lot of energy,” Haynie said. “She knows exactly what we’re doing so I don’t have to call plays every time.”
Haynie’s girls found much of their success turning defense into offense. The Lady Cougars scored 10 consecutive points in transition in the second quarter to build a 28-10 advantage with 2:16 remaining in the half.
Those opportunities came thanks to their opportunistic defense. Clay-Chalkville got their hands on 12 steals. Raven Omar and Daffany Lewis combined for half of them.
“That kind of opened the game up a little bit for us, going in transition kind of got them out of their press a little bit,” Haynie said.
Clay-Chalkville will return to the floor Monday afternoon at 2:30 against Gadsden City.
An early lead helped Hewitt-Trussville blow by Gardendale 57-36 in the opening round of the New Year’s Shootout tournament at Bryant Bank Arena on Saturday.
Back-to-back Gabby Hill 3-pointers helped the Lady Huskies build a 14-2 lead early. That lead grew to 32-12 by the end of the half. Hill finished with a game-high 16 points.
“I think we set the tone defensively against them early,” said Hewitt-Trussville head coach Tonya Hunter.
Senior point guard Cayla Dillard assisted Hill on her three deep balls. Dillard would later assist Bailey Berry from behind the arc.
Berry came off the bench to drain a trio of 3-pointers, finishing the game with nine points. She beat the third quarter buzzer for the first of her points to give Hewitt-Trussville a 42-19 advantage with eight minutes remaining.
The Lady Rockets nearly doubled their point total in the final quarter of play after Hunter pulled most of her starters. Dillard finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
Hunter and the Lady Huskies will face Fort Payne on Monday at 11 a.m. for a spot in the tournament finals.
“I’m so excited about playing the winner of (Fort Payne-Pell City) and hopefully we can win that game and we’re just trying to take it one game at a time,” Hunter said.