By Kyle Parmley
CENTER POINT — Clay-Chalkville wrapped up the Class 6A, Area 12 tournament title and a home playoff game by taking down Center Point 54-37 on Friday night.
Clay-Chalkville led wire-to-wire, but the Lady Eagles were in the game for the duration. Center Point employed a full-court press for most of the night, ensuring that neither team could get in any kind of rhythm offensively.
“I told the girls that we were going to win the game with effort,” head coach Justin Haynie said. “They just fought hard. We tried to push the ball down the floor and score in transition as much as we could.”
The starting backcourt led the way for Clay-Chalkville once again, combining for 38 of the team’s 54 points and playing lockdown defense on the perimeter. Senior Kristian Hudson took home tournament MVP honors with another solid performance, pouring in 18 points to pair with four steals. Raven Omar scored a game-high 20 points, with two assists and a pair of steals.
“I told Kristian while the clock was running down, ‘I’m so proud of you. Look what you’ve done,’” Haynie said. “She’s been so positive, motivating her teammates, and trying to spread out the scoring. She makes her teammates better and holds them accountable. She pushes them in practice. I wish she had four more years, because I’ve really enjoyed having her.”
The sequence that may have turned the tide for the game came with the clock winding down in the first half. The Lady Eagles narrowed the margin to four, and a Center Point player beat her defender off the dribble and appeared to have a clear lane to the basket, but Hudson stepped in front at the last second to take the charge. Omar finished the scoring for the half on an ensuing possession with a drive to the basket and score.
The Lady Cougars had the most trouble containing the post players from Center Point. Many of the Lady Eagles’ baskets came from offensive rebounds and put-backs. T.J. Thomas, Clay-Chalkville’s main post player, fought hard, pulling down seven rebounds and blocking three shots.
“We’ve been undersized all year. If we can’t get the rebound, we try to tip it out so our guards can run out and get it to start our transition game. They’ve got good post players and good guards, so it’s kind of pick your poison,” Haynie said.
Kimberly Parrish led Center Point with 12 points. Sakina Wynn added nine points, hitting five of her six attempts from the free throw line. The Lady Eagles were only able to connect on one 3-pointer on the evening, provided by Taliah Davis in the first quarter. Davis finished the game with six points.
Following the game, the All-Tournament team was named, highlighted by Hudson’s MVP award. She was joined by teammates Daffany Lewis, Omar and Thomas. Pinson Valley’s Alex Lowery also was selected.
The regular season All-Area team was announced prior to the title game, honoring a pair of Lady Cougars and Lady Indians. Hudson and Omar were named from Clay-Chalkville, while Maralie McKinney joined Lowery on the team from Pinson Valley.
The victory secures a home playoff game for Clay-Chalkville in the Class 6A sub-regional round. The Lady Cougars will take on Huffman on Monday night. A game time has yet to be announced. The winner will notch a spot in Jacksonville later in the week. Center Point travels to Shades Valley on Monday to begin its playoff run.