Gaidurgis comes up big for Lady Warriors on throwback night against Fort Payne

Cherokee County’s Nevaeh Gaidurgis drives to the basket against Fort Payne on Tuesday. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

CENTRE – Tuesday evening was throwback night at the Warrior Dome in Centre. The Cherokee County Lady Warriors wore retro warm-ups and uniforms similar to the ones worn by the team in the early 1990s, including their state championship year of 1992 under head coach Dale Welsh.

Current Lady Warrior coach Richard Barton may want his team to wear those throwbacks more often.

Behind 19 points and 10 rebounds from freshman forward Nevaeh Gaidurgis, the Lady Warriors captured a 55-42 basketball win over visiting Fort Payne.

“She’s a young player and a big part of what we want to do,” Barton said of Gaidurgis. “She got hurt early in the season and lost some confidence, but she stepped up big tonight with Deannia (Starr) getting into some foul trouble early and Ella (Garmany) not playing (with a back issue). We’re real thin there. We needed her to have that type of game to gain some confidence. She was big for sure.”

Gaidurgis established her presence early for Cherokee County (15-5). She scored 14 of her points in the first half, in which the Lady Warriors built a 31-22 halftime lead.

But Fort Payne’s big presence, Brylan Gray, began to heat up for the Lady Wildcats in the third quarter. She scored eight of her 16 points in the third, and at one point, cut Cherokee County’s lead to three at 31-28 with just under five minutes left in the quarter.

“We knew she was their big piece,” Barton said. “We knew if we could limit her we had a pretty good shot. She can take over basketball games real quick. She does that against a lot of teams, but I thought we did a pretty good job. She made a little run there in the third. We got a little winded and had to slow down a little bit. She scored a few points there, but I thought running the floor we did a pretty good job of limiting her. We didn’t have to change defenses very much. We were able to find her in the fourth and just didn’t let her beat us.”

Lady Warrior junior guard Raechel Russell was able to help counter Gray heating up with a pair of 3-pointers in the third, which stretched the Lady Warrior lead to 42-35 at the end of the third quarter. She also connected on a trey early in the fourth to provide Cherokee County with a 45-36 advantage.

Russell finished with 12 points, all on 3-pointers.

“Raechel is very confident. She knows her role and she knows she can shoot the ball,” Barton said. “Game in and game out she’s going to be one of our leading scorers. When she shoots it she thinks it’s going in every time. She’s been a good surprise for us this year. We didn’t see it a whole lot in the summer, but when we gave her an opportunity, she’s stepped up and made the best of it.”

Audrey Haygood had 10 points and five boards for the Lady Warriors. Mary Hayes Johnson tossed in nine points and Ellisan Givens finished with five points.

Meredith Jackson added nine points for Fort Payne. Anna Kathryn Akins added eight points and Avery Chadwick finished with five points.


Fort Payne 58, Cherokee County 54

CENTRE – The Cherokee County Warriors built a seven-point halftime advantage at halftime, but couldn’t hold on in a 58-54 loss to Fort Payne on Tuesday.

The third quarter was once again where the Warriors (9-8) stumbled. Fort Payne went on a 15-3 run to in the first four minutes of the quarter to take a 41-36 advantage. The Wildcats connected on three 3-pointers during that run and had four in the quarter. They led 46-40 heading into the fourth.

“We kind of went in a little slump shooting the ball,” Cherokee County coach Caleb Hays said. “Once they got going, it seemed like the wheels were running off a little bit.”

But the Warriors battled back late in the fourth. They took a 51-49 advantage with 2:34 to go on a fast break by senior guard Jack Amos. Amos made the go-ahead basket and was fouled on the play. He added the ensuing free throw for a two-point lead.

However, the Wildcats went on a 9-3 run the rest of the way, including 5-for-6 free throws down the stretch for the win.

“We had some opportunities to get some looks at the paint that we really didn’t finish on,” Hays said. “It was frustrating we had the bad third quarter like we did, but we picked it up. We started playing a little better and was moving the ball a little better. I felt like we attacked their defense better and adjusted, got the right guys in the right places, but it just came down to in-game situations. I told my guys when we get on somebody we can’t let off the gas on the defensive end.”

Jackson Banks led Fort Payne with 24 points, including four 3-pointers. Luke Stephens scored 15 points. Connor Kinsley and Carter Tinker tallied seven and six points respectively.

Amos topped Cherokee County with 22 points, including four 3-pointers. Malachi Horton rang for 12 points. Eli Martin and Jaden Wilson scored seven and six points respectively. Cade Hopper finished with five points.

Cherokee County’s Jack Amos drives in for a layup against Fort Payne on Tuesday. Photo by Shannon Fagan.
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