Class 1A girls: Scrappy Brantley Bulldogs win first state title

Class 1A girls: Scrappy Brantley Bulldogs win first state title

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Class 1A girls: Scrappy Brantley Bulldogs win first state title

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BIRMINGHAM

Midway through the third quarter, Brantley girls basketball coach Andrew Kilcrease called a timeout to yell at his team.

It may sound harsh, but it’s worked before.

When the Bulldogs were down late in the Regional title game, his yelling sparked a comeback and overtime win.

This time it was for the state title.

“He just slapped the floor and said very sternly, ‘We’re not going to lose this game,’ ” Brantley forward Raven Davis said. “So we just went out there and played hard for him.”

At the South Regional, Davis hit five 3-pointers after her coach’s scolding and helped the Bulldogs earn their first regional title.

On Friday, Davis hit three 3-pointers in the third quarter and helped Brantley defeat Keith 53-42 in the Class 1A state championship to earn the first title in girls history.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Davis said. “I’m just excited that we’re going to leave a legacy and everybody’s going to know who we are. We’re going to be the team, 2013, that won state.”

Keith (31-4) held a 20-16 lead over the Bulldogs (25-6) prior to the timeout with 4:50 left in the third quarter. Brantley bounced back and hit four three-pointers to spark a 20-6 run and lead 36-26 heading into the final period.

“I can’t explain the joy I have for them,” Brantley coach Andrew Kilcrease said. “They did exactly what I asked. They were better than what they were playing, and I got after them a little bit and they turned it around.”

Davis said catching an earful from Kilcrease is her good-luck charm, and he should do it more often.

“Every time he yells at me, everything just flows better,” Davis said. “It’s because I have the pressure on me. I know it’s not good to have pressure, but sometimes it is for me.”

The Bulldogs struggled early, managing just 13 points in the first half. Davis scored 11 of her 17 points in the third to ignite the Brantley offense, and Ahmani Upshaw scored seven of her 12 in the fourth and held off the Bears’ comeback run.

“She was heroic,” Upshaw said of Davis. “She went from crying to, ‘Give me the ball.’ And to hear that, we’re going to give her the ball. When she’s hot, that’s the right time to give it to her.”

Harriet Winchester scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Bears, and Zykia Pettway added 10 points and 11 rebounds. Winchester scored eight points in the fourth quarter before fouling out with 2:20 to go.

The girls’ celebration was short-lived as they went to support the boys team in its championship match against St. Jude. Kilcrease coaches both teams and has a chance to be the first coach in AHSAA history to win a title with both squads.

Senior Erica Daniels, who scored six points and grabbed nine rebounds said if both teams win, Kilcrease would have shaven his head.

“They wanted me to, there’s not much up there anyway,” Kilcrease said.

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