The win put the Lady Bulldogs in today's 6:30 p.m. finals for the seventh time in the last eight years and for the fourth straight year against No. 3 seed Jacksonville. Anniston beat the Golden Eagles in 2011 and 2012 and lost in 2013.
“You want to play your best and you want to always try to get to the finals,” Anniston head coach Eddie Bullock said. “We’re looking forward to it. Even though we’re the No. 1 seed, Jacksonville is the defending champs. Until somebody beats them, they’re defending champs.”
Before the Bulldogs (16-5) could worry about Jacksonville, they had get by Piedmont (8-14).
Defense led the way for Anniston, which built a 16-0 lead in the first quarter. Anniston led 31-6 at halftime.
“That’s the trademark of all my teams,” Bullock said. “We stress defense. The old adage I use is that offense wins games, defense wins championships. We try to let our defense create our offense for us.”
Anniston gave up only 10 second half points.
“Anniston’s defense was really tough," Piedmont head coach Terrace Ridley said. "It’s really one of the toughest defenses we’ve seen. ... Tonight, we just fell apart.”
Senior forward Quanetria Bolton, an Alabama signee, led Anniston on offense and defense with a double-double performance. She managed 12 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks.
“Defense is always first,” Bolton said. “The way we play, we play well on defense and then we feel out the offense from there.”
Anniston’s senior class has faced Jacksonville in the finals every year they have been in high school. Jacksonville defeated Anniston 59-57 in last year’s Finals. Bolton said “getting revenge would be great.”
“Being that we lost in the championship game,” she said, “I felt like it was essential for our senior year to make it back to the championship game.”
Added Bullock: “Jacksonville has a smart team. They have two girls that kind of key everything they do. They’re good basketball players. If you want to beat Jacksonville, you have to contain those two girls.”
Friday’s loss ended Piedmont’s solid run in the county tournament. It started with a 43-42 win over Alexandria thanks to a shot as time expired and a 48-44 win over Class 3A, Area 10 champion White Plains. Ridley called the journey “a learning experience.”
“They’re young,” she said. “All of them will be coming back and playing next year. Hopefully next year, we can come back and end up making it to Saturday.”