Lady Cougars secure AISA Class 1A Runners-up

Published 7:58 pm Thursday, February 23, 2023

Crenshaw Christian Academy varsity girls faced Lowndes Academy on Feb. 10, securing the Alabama Independent School Association Class 1A Runners-up after a 39-21 loss in the game.

CCA varsity girls coach Cris Pedersen said earning a spot in the playoffs was important to the Lady Cougars.

“It means everything,” Pedersen said. “We had a lot of new girls and girls coming together who have never really played together. It was super exciting to make it this far, period.”

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Lowndes girls earned AISA Class 1A Championship title, ending their season in the state finals game at Cramton Bowl.

According to Pedersen CCA’s season was about getting back into finals.

“We were a basketball school between 2000 and 2015,” Pedersen said. “We had four boys’ championships and two girls’ championships. Somewhere along the way Crenshaw lost basketball. I kept telling the girls, ‘We just have one goal in mind and that’s the end of the season.’”

“We played some tough teams. It gave us confidence when we played Sparta and Edgewood. I just tried to keep their mental game sharp, having confidence in themselves and their teammates.”

The Rebels took the lead at the start of the playoff game. In the first period, senior Molly Powell sank a three-point basket and by the period’s end, Lowndes was ahead 13-0.

Pedersen said the teams had met on the court before and knew each other very well.

“They beat us by 37 at their place the first time we played, but we were in foul trouble,” Pedersen said. “And, to stay true to ourselves, we got in foul trouble at our place. Going into the fourth quarter, they were only up by nine and they ended up beating us by 18.”

Halfway through period two, the score held at 15-4 but just after the half, Lowndes pulled ahead with a 20-6 lead.

The teams battled on the court through the second half. CCA rallied in the third period with two minutes left to play, CCA gained 21 points and Marshall called a timeout.

Lowndes focused on taking out senior Laken Harrell, playing Rebels around her near the basket to prevent Harrell from scoring.

“We knew [Marshall] was trying to take Laken out and he did a really good job of setting a couple of girls down there to try and get a charge,” Pedersen said. “She likes to do little jumps up in the middle and spin back to her right. He set a girl there one time to stop her from turning, from pivoting right so we knew we had to get the ball to Tanna.”

The Lowndes girls continued to push forward, ending the game with an 18-point lead.

“Tanna Singleton is a great ball player, hard inside, very good at blocking out and rebounding,” Marshall said. “We knew she would be tough and we needed to do something. We had a mental adjustment and changed our attitude. I told them we were playing not to lose, so we started playing, trying not to lose the game, trying not to make a mistake. We put a lot more attention on her during that time out.”

Five girls — Powell, Hooper, and Haley Briggs from Lowndes as well as Harrell and Singleton — received All Tournament Awards for their outstanding play in the association’s state finals game. 

“Singleton is one of the most skilled, if not the most skilled in AISA,” Pedersen said. “She’s going on to play in the All-Star game and so is Laken. I think they deserve that. Laken scored well over 400 points for us this year. They got us shut down, but we knew Tanna could take over. She just had to decide she wanted to.”

Seniors Singleton and Harrell led the Cougars throughout the season, Pedersen said.

“I can’t say enough about those girls,” Pedersen said. “They played together at Pike Liberal Arts when they were younger. So, you could tell they’ve got the chemistry on the floor. They had that chemistry from the jump. They both made the All-Star team from a small, 1A school in Crenshaw County. That’s pretty exciting.”