MUSCLE SHOALS — Anna Claire Noblit and Jothani Dixon played a game of “anything you can do, I can do better” Saturday night in the girls championship game of the Colbert County tournament.
Noblit, Covenant Christian’s do-everything guard, shot her way to a game-high 33 points as the Class 1A top-ranked Eagles flirted with an upset of Dixon’s Class 3A, No. 4-ranked Deshler.
In the end, it was Dixon’s 25-point effort and some crucial free throws that enabled Deshler to claim the country title with a 57-49 victory.
Dixon hit five of her seven 3-pointers in the first half as the Tigers (14-5) raced to a 34-20 lead and then held off Covenant’s fourth-quarter rally.
“Being a senior, winning the county tournament means a lot,” Dixon said. “That’s the best I’ve shot the ball all year. Hopefully this will give us a spark for the rest of the season.”
“Jothani did a great job,” Deshler coach Jana Killen said. “She’s a senior and she stepped up and had a big game for us. We got in foul trouble and they were able to get back into the game late.”
Covenant Christian coach Bill Deegan said he was pleased with the way his team battled back from a 48-28 deficit late in the third quarter to pull within 53-48 with 1:33 to play.
“Our kids fought all the way,” he said. “We wanted to win the fourth quarter and all of a sudden we had a chance at the end. I thought Anna Claire played a great game. She had to bring the ball up against their pressure, and it was usually two or three players, and she did a great job. Coach Killen does a great job with her team. They just pressure you the whole game.”
Noblit, a first-team all-state player a year ago, sliced her way through Deshler’s defense but her 33 points didn’t come easily. She had five points in an 8-0 run that closed the third quarter and opened the fourth quarter to trim the 20-point deficit to 12. Bailey Hill, who had 13 points, teamed with Noblit on a 7-0 run that had the lead down to 52-45 with 3:30 to play.
Covenant Christian (18-2) missed a putback that would have trimmed it three points with 1:33 to play before Deshler closed it out at the free-throw line. Laykin Coman hit two clutch free throws that took the lead to 55-48.
“We didn’t even know if she would play because she broke her nose against Muscle Shoals the other night,” Killen said. “Those were two big free throws at the end.”
Lauren Cantrell added 11 points for the Tigers, while Coman added 10.
Deshler finished with nine 3-pointers against Covenant Christian’s zone defense, but Deegan was happy the Eagles played the Tigers to a virtual standoff on second-chance points.
“I thought we did a great job of blocking out,” Deegan said. “And we did a pretty good job against their pressure.”
Contact Gregg Dewalt at 256-740-5748 or email@example.com. Follow @greggdewalt on Twitter.