SEALE, Ala. -- Russell County's boys and girls basketball teams swept their way into the Class 5A South Regional Semifinals Friday night, knocking off Saraland in a pair of subregional matchups.
Russell County's girls opened the proceedings with a 52-37 win over the Spartans and the boys closed things out with a 74-53 victory.
Both Russell County teams will play again Wednesday afternoon at the Dothan Civic Center. Russell County's girls will take on Faith Academy at 1 p.m., while the boys will face also face either Faith Academy at 3 p.m.
In Friday's girls game, Russell County (11-10) used aggressive full-court defense to fluster Saraland early and score the game's first 14 points. The Spartans didn't get on the board until there was 2:56 to go in the first quarter and the Warriors held a 18-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
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Tiyah Johnson keyed the early outburst for Russell County with eight points in the opening eight minutes and Daija Jones had six as well for the Warriors, who were hosting their first subregion game in three years.
"We've really been working on applying pressure on the ball," said Russell County coach Shawn Taylor, whose team has now won 11 straight since starting the season 0-10. "We're not a very big team, so we wanted to put some pressure on them and set the tone for the game. I feel like we really did that and were able to ride the momentum out from there."
The Warriors' offense slowed down in the second quarter, and Saraland cut the Warriors' lead down to 28-16 at halftime. Johnson finished the first 16 minutes with 12 points to lead all scorers and Jones also had 10 for Russell County.
Saraland (13-8) kept chipping away at Russell County's lead early in the second half, closing to within nine points at 30-21 with 6:10 to go in the third quarter.
Russell County maintained its advantage and took a 39-24 lead to the fourth quarter and cruised to the victory, building as much as a 21-point advantage -- coming at 52-31 with just over a minute to go - and never allowing the Spartans to get closer than 15 points in the final eight minutes.
"I thought this was one of our more complete games this season," said Taylor. "We've been turnover-prone this season and I felt like we took care of the ball a little better. I'm really proud of the way we responded since we started the season 0-10. I told our girls to remember what it felt like. I told them not to harp on it, but to let it be a motivator to them."
Jones led Russell County with 19 points, 14 rebounds and six steals.
Tiyah Johnson added 14, five steals, three blocked shots and two assists for the Warriors, who also got nine points, three steals and three assists from Teyah Johnson and eight points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals from Taye Carr.
Just like the girls game, Russell County's boys (13-13) scored their game's first 14 points, not allowing Saraland (11-13) to dent the scoreboard until there was 3:31 remaining in the first quarter.
The Warriors led 17-7 after the opening period and led by as much as 17 points in the second quarter -- at 26-9 -- before taking a 30-17 lead into the locker room at halftime. Kenneth Barnes led a balanced Russell County scoring attack with seven points and Jaekwon Parker and Byron Johnson chipped in six apiece.
Friday at Russell County
Saraland 3 13 8 13--37
Russell Co. 18 10 11 13--52
Garrett 1, Hall 2, Shepard 6, Reed 2, Dreaden 9, Jordan Buckles 10, Copeland 7.
Russell County (52)
Tiyah Johnson 14, Teyah Johnson 9, Carr 8, Judge 2, Daija Jones 19.
Records: Saraland 13-8, Russell County 11-10; Next: Russell County vs. Faith Academy Wednesday 1 p.m. (Region Semifinals at Dothan Civic Center) .
Saraland 7 10 12 24--53
Russell Co. 17 13 29 15--74
Gwinn 2, Wright 3, Sims 2, Felder 8, Josh Bazzell 22, Adair 7, Norwood 9. Totals 29 20-28 83.
Russell County (74)
Rutherford 3, Cortez Gunn 11, Lindsey 1, Lyons 9, Hill 2, Carl Johnson 16, Ricks 3, Parker 8, Kenneth Barnes 10, Byron Johnson 11.
Records: Saraland 11-13, Russell County 13-13; Next: Russell County vs. Faith Academy/Spanish Fort winner Wednesday 3 p.m. (Region Semifinals at Dothan Civic Center)