The latest addition to the history book came Saturday afternoon with Carbon Hill claiming its first area tournament title.
The Bulldogs used a dominant second half to knock off Corner 46-30 in the Class 4A, Area 8 Tournament championship game at Carbon Hill High School.
Next up for Carbon Hill is a Central sub-regional game against Bibb County set for 7 p.m. on Thursday. The winner advances to the Central Regional Tournament in Montgomery — in what would be yet another first for the Carbon Hill girls.
“We finished 8-0 in the area and are area champs for the first time. Getting to host a sub regional — that was the goal from day 1, and these girls never forgot that,” Carbon Hill coach Wade Tittle said.
“I'm not worried about regional tournaments or anything like that. We are going to try to win the next game we play. I want my team to give great effort and have good attitudes and everything will take care of itself.”
Saturday’s area tournament victory was a long time coming. Carbon Hill’s girls won a total of seven games in a two-year span before turning things around starting with the 2010-11 season.
“To go from winning four games my freshman year to now losing only six games is amazing,” senior Meagan Bice said. “I’ve played here throughout high school. I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else. We’ve made history since I’ve been here and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.”
The game was close through two quarters, but Carbon Hill’s smothering defense allowed just 12 points in the second half and the Bulldogs pulled away in the fourth quarter.
“This is as good as it gets,” junior guard Caroline Dodd said of the Bulldogs’ first ever area championship. “Sometimes we get off to a slow start, but the third quarter is always our best quarter. We need to start the first quarter like we start the third. I think this team can go pretty far as long as we stay in control and play together.”
“When we play as a team, we are unstoppable,” senior Mallorie Buzbee said. “I knew that if we worked hard, with the talent we have, we would be able to make it pretty far.”
Carbon Hill (25-6) was just as good from behind the arc as it was inside on Saturday. The Bulldogs finished the game with eight 3-pointers and eight 2-point baskets.
Carbon Hill got off to a sluggish start against Corner.
Dodd, the tournament MVP, accounted for all of the Bulldogs’ first-quarter points, drilling four 3-pointers. Carbon Hill led 12-9 after the first quarter. Corner battled back to tie the game at 17-17 midway through the second quarter.
The Bulldogs began putting some distance between the teams later in the quarter when Dodd drilled yet another 3-pointer and Mallorie Buzbee scored with 33 seconds left in the half. Carbon Hill led 23-18 at intermission.
Fluker took a feed from Dodd for an easy basket and added a pair of free throws to extend Carbon Hill’s lead to 26-18 at the 5:35 mark of the third quarter, but Corner had one last push to cut the gap to four points. Avery Wakefield and Madison Purvis made shots to make the score 26-22, but the Bulldogs retaliated with seven straight points.
Fluker made a layup, Dodd connected on a 3-pointer and Buzbee added another basket to make the score 33-22. The Bulldogs led 33-24 after three quarters.
Corner got within seven points after a pair of Wakefield free throws to open the fourth quarter, but Dodd and Fluker followed with baskets to make the score 37-26. The Yellow Jackets didn’t get within striking distance the rest of the game.
Dodd finished with a game-high 22 points and five assists, Fluker added 12 points, 10 rebounds and four steals, Savanna Lawson put in six points, Mallorie Buzbee added four points and Bice had two points and six rebounds.
“This is very exciting. I’m so proud of our team,” said Fluker, who had a feeling that Carbon Hill would have a record-breaking season even before the team played its first game. “I knew from the get-go that we were going to be good. We lost two seniors, but we worked well together. I think we are going all the way to state.”
For Corner, Wakefield scored 20 points while Carissa Reeves had five points and Andrea DeBord added three.
Corner makes the trip to Calera for its sub-regional game on Thursday. Calera won the Area 7 tournament 41-25 over Bibb County.