By Matthew Martin/Sports Correspondent
For the second year in a row, Hokes Bluff will be playing for the girls’ county championship.
Also for the second time in as many years, Carlie Shields is the reason why.
Sardis did not have an answer for Shields, as the senior guard led the top-seeded Eagles past the Lions, 45-32, in the semifinals of the Girls Etowah County High School Basketball Tournament on Wednesday at Beck Field House on the campus of Gadsden State.
Shields scored 23 points, grabbed five rebounds and passed for four assists as Class 4A No. 10 Hokes Bluff led from start to finish.
Though the Eagles led throughout and were never really challenged, there were times during the game where Shields was the team’s entire offense.
“We played good, defensively,” Hokes Bluff coach Jason Shields said. “But, offensively, we got stagnant and we had no movement. They were sagging off on us and we were taking shots, instead of driving to the basket.
There was not any point in the game where the Eagles could pull away, as Sardis (7-13) was able to keep the game within 10 points through most of the game.
“It’s a rhythm game, and we never got in rhythm,” Coach Shields said. “But give them credit. Sardis caused us to play that way. They’re a really good team.”
Hokes Bluff (16-4) held an 11-4 lead after one quarter and a 23-16 lead at the half.
Shields scored 15 points in the first two quarters, including a 3-pointer at the halftime horn.
The Eagles slowly began increasing their lead in the second half, pushing it to a 10-point advantage at 32-22 after three quarters.
It was not just a one-girl show, however, as Shields got help from the entire team on both offense and defense.
Hannah Evans scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds, while Kendall Johnson scored seven points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Also for the Eagles, Sydney Ball grabbed seven rebounds.
Kacee Mashburn scored 13 points and Katelyn Beasley scored seven points to lead Sardis.
Hokes Bluff will take on the winner of Thursday night’s other semifinal between Southside and second seed Glencoe in Friday’s championship game.