BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The top-ranked Cold Springs Lady Eagles were back at Legacy Arena Friday morning to battle No. 2 Mars Hill and despite getting off to a fast start, Cold Springs was unable to keep pace with the Lady Panthers in the second half and Mars Hill claimed this year’s 2A State Title with a 69-47 win over the Lady Eagles.
Cold Springs (31-3) Head Coach Tammy West has made her fair share of trips to the Final Four and brought home four blue maps in her tenure with the Lady Eagles. Cold Springs Basketball is a familiar brand to everyone in the state after so many years of success and West is proud to be able to represent the program and her community on the biggest stage.
“It’s special, it’s very special. We wear it with a lot of pride. We take a lot of pride in our blue and all of our fans that were here today with the big blue nation shirts and all the support we’ve had all year long,” West said. “There is absolutely nothing like Cold Springs, nothing. Come to a game on a Tuesday or a Friday night and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s a special place.”
Lady Eagles standouts Ella Dickerson, Maci Brown and Ciara Calvert were each proud of what they were able to accomplish this season. With a lot of new names and faces coming together this season, they knew building chemistry would be critical and they were able to do that on their way to 31 wins and a 2A State Runner-up finish.
“Going into this year, this was our dream,” Dickerson said. “We wanted to be here for this moment, and we worked as hard as we could to get to this point.”
“We just knew coming in that a lot of us had never played together and we knew we had to create a bond on and off the court,” Brown said. “We worked on that and on each of our skills so we could put that together to get to this point.”
“At the beginning of the season Mrs. West told us all to bring our puzzle pieces and put them together and we finally did that,” Calvert said. “We just worked hard in the mornings and at practices and just gave it all we had, especially these last few weeks. I wish we could’ve won but I’m proud of how we ended it.”
The Lady Eagles built an early lead in the first quarter, fueled largely by their performance on the defensive end. Ciara Calvert and Maci Brown both took steals the other way for easy baskets to put Cold Springs up 4-0 and Ella Dickerson buried a three-pointer on the next possession to make it a 7-1 game. Calvert followed with another three to stretch the lead to 10-2 midway through the opening period and Brown laid one in to make it 12-2. Calvert scored off another Mars Hill turnover to keep the Lady Eagles ahead by 10 with two minutes remaining in the first and Dickerson sank a pair of free throws with 40 seconds on the clock to maintain a 16-6 advantage. A Malaya Taylor basket added to the lead with just 12 seconds left in the first quarter and Cold Springs went into the second leading 18-9.
The momentum began to flip in the second quarter, and Mars Hill used an 11-2 run to tie the game at 20 with five minutes remaining in the first half. Dickerson knocked down a pair of free throws to keep the score knotted at 22 midway through the period but a 12-2 run by the Lady Panthers put the Lady Eagles behind 34-24 in the final minute of the second. Cold Springs got a little momentum on its side when Dickerson drilled a jumper at the buzzer and trimmed the lead to 34-26 at the halftime break.
A three-pointer from Ella Bruer and a basket by Brown cut the lead to 37-31 early in the third and Dickerson laid one in to make it a 39-33 game midway through the period. Brown drained a three to hold the lead to 43-36 with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter but a 7-0 finish by the Lady Panthers gave them a 50-36 lead going into the final frame.
Bruer knocked down another three to start the fourth quarter and trim the lead to 50-39 but Mars Hill continued adding to its lead and pulled ahead 62-39 with a little over four minutes remaining. Dickerson and Brown both converted and-one plays to make it a 62-45 game with just under two minutes on the clock but the Lady Eagles couldn’t chip away any more of the lead than that. The final points of the game came on a jumper by Baylee Perdue and Cold Springs fell to the Lady Panthers 69-47 to finish the season as the Class 2A State Runner-up.
Dickerson led the Lady Eagles with 16 points in the loss and Brown finished just behind her with 14. Calvert added seven, Bruer finished with six and Perdue and Taylor each posted two. Dickerson and Brown also earned 2A All-State Tournament Team honors.
West admits that when the season started she thought her team was a year away from making a run at a state title but she was more than happy to be proven wrong. With nearly everyone set to return for the Lady Eagles next season, West is excited to see what they can do with another year together under their belts.
“I’m so excited that we had the opportunity to play here today,” West said. “We won 10 games last year and if you had told me at the start of this season that we would be in this position I would’ve told you that we’re probably a year away. These girls proved me wrong. They worked extremely hard, fought all year long and they won all year long. You’ll see them again next year.”
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