Burley blocks 10 shots, scores 38 as Mitchell girls roll into 1-AA semis

Photo by Scott Chancey

Photo by Scott Chancey

CAMILLA -- Give Tiona Burley a perfect 10 -- as in number of shots blocked.

That's right, 10 blocked shots in less than four quarters, and that was just the beginning of Burley's dominance Tuesday night against Cook County in the GHSA Region 1-AA Tournament.

By the time Mitchell County's girls had run away from Cook County, 64-41, to advance to Thursday's semifinal round against Brooks, Burley had already gone to the bench after scoring 38 points, while also pulling down 15 rebounds.

And when she wasn't blocking shots, Burley was forcing Cook to alter its shots. The result was a long night for the Lady Hornets.

Burley, who has already accepted a scholarship to play at Charlotte, made it look so easy against a smaller Cook team that had no answer for the 6-foot-2 post who averages 25 points and 15 boards a night.

She has been an even bigger force for Mitchell County since returning two weeks ago from a five-game suspension. Mitchell County hasn't lost since Burley's return.

"She's always been outstanding, but I know she can do even more,'' Mitchell County girls coach Rosemary Sanders said after watching Burley put up those staggering numbers Tuesday. "This is her year, because she's a senior.''

It was her half Tuesday. Burley scored only 12 points in the first half, hitting 6-of-9 shots, before dropping in 26 in the second half. She made 18-of-25 shots from the field, bagging 12-of-14 in the second half.

The game was still in question at 27-16 early in the third when Burley put the game away. She scored 21 of Mitchell's next 26 points and pulled down eight rebounds during that stretch as the Lady Eagles took a 53-31 lead with 5:23 left in the game.

Mitchell (18-6) will play Brooks in the semifinals at 4 p.m. on Thursday at Thomasville. Brooks has already won two close games against Mitchell.

"The third time is a charm,'' Sanders said.

Mitchell County's Kapri Gaines and D'Erika Quimbley each scored eight points for the Lady Eagles. Cook was led by C.C. Allen, who scored nine points.

FITZGERALD BOYS 56, ALBANY 41: Albany coach Archie Chatmon emptied his bench with 3:06 left in the game. Fitzgerald had just ripped off a 13-0 run that came complete with a couple of crowd-shaking dunks -- the kind that always seem to come with game-winning runs. It was 56-35 -- and Chatmon had seen enough.

It was over. The game. The tournament and the Indians' season.

"They just outplayed us,'' said Chatmon after his team was eliminated from the GHSA Region 1-AA tournament late Tuesday night in Camilla.

Albany led, 14-13, at the end of the first quarter and it was 18-18 with three minutes left in the half when Fitzgerald (9-16) began pulling away. The Purple Hurricanes took a 26-22 halftime lead and rushed out to an 11-4 run to open the third. They never looked back.

The two teams had split games during the season, and third-seeded Albany (12-12 for the season) was the higher seed (Fitzgerald was No. 7). But the Indians had trouble shooting the ball in the second half, scoring just 13 points after the break until the time Chatmon emptied his bench.

Still, Chatmon, who saw seven players transfer before the season began, echoed his sentiments about how much he enjoyed coaching this young team, which had only three seniors.

"I appreciate the effort they gave,'' he said. "I couldn't be more proud of them. I'm proud of them for sticking with us.''

Sophomores Jontavius Morris (10 points), Tim Pierce (9) and Larry Sanford (8) led the Indians. Tevin Stewart led Fitzgerald, which advances to play Mitchell County in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Thomasville.