DANVILLE — For her entire freshman season at Schlarman Academy, Sierra Bell did everything possible to make her Hilltoppers successful. They ended last season with a regional title and raised the bar for the future of the program.
But in Sunday’s women’s Dustbowl championship, she did everything in her power to keep her high school teammates from winning.
Bell’s Prime Tyme Cuts faced Shooting Stars in Sunday’s title game, which were made up of junior high and high school members of the Schlarman Academy program, and headed by Hilltoppers coach, Keith Peoples.
There is no question the future of the Schlarman Academy girls basketball program is bright, but Bell ultimately prevailed as she scored 21 points en route to Prime Tyme Cuts’ 50-42 win.
“To me, it was sort of like a challenge,” said Bell, who also had 12 rebounds and three steals. “The coach already knows how I play. I took the challenge.”
Bell scored only seven of her points in the first half and was virtually outplayed by Schlarman Academy sixth-grader Anaya Peoples who, by the end of the first half had scored 10 points, dished out three assists, and grabbed eight rebounds.
Anaya Peoples finished the game with 22 points, 12 boards, three assists and three steals, but Bell’s second-half performance, along with the rebounding of former Danville High standouts Lynette Buggs (six points, 17 rebounds) and Breanna Keys (10 points, five rebounds), along with Jillean Cooper-Watson (nine points, 11 rebounds) was too much to overcome.
Shooting Stars held a narrow advantage in the first half, and trailed only 30-29 with 10 minutes to go in the game. But Prime Tyme Cuts used a 16-4 run late in the second half to take a 46-33 lead with three minutes, 52 seconds remaining.
“We weren’t really playing with enough intensity on the defensive end,” Bell said. “Defense is really the key to the basketball game, so it was basically defense that got us. In the second half we had to turn it up.”
Nakaya Hughes was the only other player for Shooting Stars to reach double figures in scoring with 10 points, nine rebounds, and four blocked shots.