By Gene Phelps
Special to the Gazette
ENTERPRISE – Analisa Cheairs wasn’t a factor in the post last season for New Albany’s Lady Bulldogs.
“She was too shy, timid,” New Albany coach Micha Washington said.
In Thursday’s Halloween night season opener against West Union, the 5-10 junior was a beast in the paint in leading her team to a 52-45 victory. Cheairs scored 20 points, 12 in the second half, and grabbed nine rebounds to pace the Lady Bulldogs.
“It takes a lot to get her going, but when she’s going, she’s going,” Washington said.
Cheairs scored New Albany’s first eight points of the second quarter to help her team take a 20-16 halftime lead. Two of her field goal were on putbacks.
“I couldn’t let my team do all the work,” she said. “My mind wasn’t focused early. Once I got going I knew I had to play my role.”
West Union coach J.C. Hayles and his team didn’t have an answer for Cheairs.
“She is a very good athlete and played extremely hard for them,” he said.
West Union guard Annie Orman led her team with 20 points, 10 in each half. Her layup off an assist from Eden Conlee cut the Lady Bulldogs’ lead to 51-45 with 40 seconds remaining.
However, the Lady Eagles missed their final three field goal attempts.
New Albany built a 44-31 lead early in the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run. A putback by Cheairs and a 3-pointer by Ashanti High were key field goals in the run.
Conlee, who scored 12 points, connected on three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to pull the Lady Eagles within striking distance.
Kelsie Ledbetter hit on three 3-pointers and scored 11 points for New Albany.
(B) New Albany 109, West Union 55
Senior guard Mitchell Shettles scored 27 points to lead the Bulldogs, who had six players score in double figures.
One of those was senior point guard Isaiah Ball, who contributed 12 to give him 1,009 career points. Also for the Bulldogs, Albert McDonald scored 12, Reed Harris 12, Michael Casey 11 and Artaveion High 10.
New Albany took control early, racing to a 36-8 first-quarter lead.
“I told my players today, we’ve got to bring the energy,” New Albany coach Scotty Shettles said. “If we go out there and we bring the energy, play a high level of basketball, we’ll be fine. I think (West Union) had 40 turnovers.
“… If we can do that the whole season, we can win a lot of games. We’re deep. Everybody on our bench can play.”
Sam Callicutt scored 12 points to pace West Union.
“They’re really good,” Eagles coach Timbo Henderson said. “You try to prepare your kids for it, but you can’t replicate that in practice. It was an opportunity to stress things, the little things you’ve got to do as far as protecting the ball and decision making.”